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Jan. 1959 • 35 Cen 



SCIENCE FICTION 





3 FACES OF CRIPPLING 




JOIN THE MARCH OF DIMES 



■ ■■H TOWARD GREATER VICTORIES ■■■ ■■ 



LOOKING TO YOU FOR HELP . . . 

All three share one dream — to grow up able to 
move about and lead healthy normal lives. The 
March of Dimes can help them realize that dream 
if you give generously. 



{ VOL. LXII • NO. 5 

Astounding 

SCIENCE FICTION 



Novelettes 

To Run the Rim, A. Bertram Chandler 
Robin Hood’s Barn, Poul Anderson . . 



January 



8 

54 



1959 



Deadlock, Robert and Barbara Silverberg . 92 

Short Stories 

By .New Hearth Fires, Gordon R. Dickson . 40 

Seedling, Charles V. de Vet 83 

Study in Still Life, Eric Frank Russell . . . 122 

Readers' Departments 

The Editor’s Page 4 

In Times to Come 39 

The Analytical Laboratory 53 

The Reference Library, P. Schuyler Miller 144. 
Brass Tacks 155 

JOHN W. CAMPBELL, JR. KAY TARRANT 

Cdiior Assistant Editor 



\ The editorial contents bare not been 

■ published before, are protected by 
2 copyright and cannot be reprinted 

■ without publisher's permission. All 
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5 No actual persons are designated by 
2 name or character. Any similarity 

■ is coincidental. 

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DITORI AL 



WE 

MUST 

STUDY PSI 



HE essential concept of 
truth-seeking is that a 
truth must be accepted, 

■ whether it is favorable 
or unfavorable, desired 
or dreaded, whether it means riches 
and happiness, or stark madness. 
There is, in the concept of the Scien- 
tific Method, the fundamental propo- 
sition that there are Laws in an or- 
dered Universe; that we must learn 
those laws — whether we like them or 
not. 

During the last four years, I’ve 
been investigating psi; I started the 
investigation largely because it has 
been a background element in science 
fiction, almost from the start. Telep- 
athy has been stock business. E. E. 
Smith’s Lensman series was based 
primarily on psi — for the Lens itself 
is, essentially, a psi machine. 

With the development of science 



into engineering proceeding at the 
pace it has, by 1950 the major devel- 
opments that science fiction had been 
forecasting were definitely under en- 
gineering — not theoretical — study. It 
was time for us to move on, if we 
were to fulfill our function as a 
frontier literature. 

To some extent, science fiction 
moved on into the social sciences — 
sociology, anthropology and psychol- 
ogy- 

item: Dr. Rhine originally started 
his investigation of psi because, as a 
professional psychologist, he had 
come to the conclusion that psychol- 
ogy-as-such lacked an essential ele- 
ment. You would have an exceeding- 
ly hard time working out biochemis- 
try, if your chemistry hadn’t discov- 
ered nitrogen, for example. Rhine’s 
studies led him to suspect something 
about as important as nitrogen to bio- 




4 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




chemistry was missing from psychol- 
ogy- 

item : every anthropologist is aware 
of the important part magic — the psi 
phenomena under their older name — 
plays in human cultures. 

Item: Every sociologist is aware 
that you can’t make a population be- 
have in a logical manner — cultural 
superstitions defy logical analysis, 
logical argument, and logical forces. 

I was forced back toward psi, even 
when science fiction started toward 
the social sciences. 

Since I published the editorial in 
the February 1956 issue, suggesting 
running material on psi machines, I 
have been receiving quantities of in- 
formation, from hundreds of sources. 

I have an advantage that few peo- 
ple have; there are people all over 
this planet reading Astounding, and 
for many it evidently has a very per- 
sonal meaning. I hear from them. I 
can’t answer all; many times no in- 
dividual letter, or clipping, or reprint 
sent me has much specific value. But 
they, taken together, form a sort of 
Ishihara Color Vision Test phenom- 
enon; no one mass of any one color 
on the Ishihara Color test disks has 
any meaning — it’s the pattern made 
of hundreds of individually mean- 
ingless dots of pastel color that build 
the pattern. 

I’ve written a bit about the Hier- 
onymus machine; recently we ran an 
item about the pipe-locators used by 
W. F. Marklund of the City of Flint, 
Michigan. A considerable number of 
people tried the Hieronymus ma- 
chine; it proved to be a repeatable 

WE MUST STUDY PSI 



experiment in the best scientific 
sense. Individuals instructed only by 
the printed word were able to dupli- 
cate the phenomena. 

But I have not reported even one 
per cent of the data that has come to 
my attention. I visited the George de 
la Warr laboratories when I was in 
England for the 1957 Science Fiction 
Convention. I’ve visited other psi- 
machine laboratories in Canada, and 
the United States. I’ve watched illegal 
— but beneficial! — medical diagnosis 
and treatment by psi machine. I’ve 
seen records of psi machines used to 
destroy insect pests in crops. 

That, by the way, was a particular- 
ly interesting item. The State Depart- 
ment of Agriculture checkers were 
asked to check the experiment. They 
did so; standard Department of Agri- 
culture evaluation techniques were 
used — alternate strips on farms scat- 
tered over five counties — some ninety 
farms in all — were treated, while in- 
tervening strips were left untreated 
as control patches. The checks were 
made at intervals by Department of 
Agriculture employees. 

At the end of the season, their fig- 
ures showed that ninety-five per cent 
of the Japanese Beetles on the test 
plots had been killed. 

And at that point, for the first 
time, the Department of Agriculture 
learned that their checks had not 
been made on a new chemical insecti- 
cide. 

The Department immediately re- 
fused to acknowledge the results of 
their tests. There’s no use writing me 
to ask which state it was, because 

6 




that state department will deny the 
check’s validity. 

The treatment was made by treat- 
ment of photographs, at distances 
ranging from one hundred twenty 
feet to five hundred miles. 

This treatment has, incidentally, 
shown equally sound evidence of its 
ability to successfully combat Dutch 
Elm Disease, and Oak Wilt, which 
cannot be stopped by any orthodox 
technique. 

Any anthropologist can tell you 
that the "superstitions” or magical 
concepts of North American Indians, 
Australian aborigines, African Ne- 
groes, Chilean Indians, the ancient 
Chinese, the early Norse, the Polyne- 
sians, and the Mediterranean peoples 
contain many identical concepts. 
These peoples have not had commu- 
nication for many thousands of years 
— particularly the Australian abo- 
rigines. 

. Now while I do hold that democ- 
racy can go too far, I also hold that 
democracy has a great, deep value — 
and the essential of that value might 
be phrased "You can’t fool all the 
people very long.” A completely 
functionless belief won’t fool all the 
people for tens of thousands of years. 

There must be a factor in the 
Universe itself which those immense- 
ly widely scattered peoples have, in- 
dependently, experienced, and exper- 
ienced with sufficient regularity to 
make those concepts remain part of 
human cultures. 

Ours is the only culture that offi- 
cially denies Magic. And . . . ours 

6 



does not, by several millennia, qualify 
as a "very long” culture. The denial 
of magic is only about three centuries 
old. You can fool a large percentage 
of a people for that short a period of 
time. 

The psi machines I’ve encountered 
work — and they work on precisely 
the same ancient laws of Magic that 
those wide-scattered peoples have, in- 
dependently, accepted. 

I’ve had that point countered by 
“Yes, but the common factor is the 
nature of Man — he wants it to work 
that way! Therefore peoples every- 
where have accepted it. It’s human 
nature, not reality, at work!” 

Oh? Then how come human na- 
ture evolved that tendency? How 
come no mutations came along to 
produce a human variant without that 
time-effort-energy wasting tendency, 
huh? Why is it, then, that no hu- 
man culture, anywhere, has survived 
even three generations after giving 
up the interrelated concepts of magic 
and religion? 

If that is, as stated, a fundamental 
of human nature . . . why? We can 
understand why resistance to disease 
is a fundamental of human nature — 
and why a breed that loses that re- 
sistance dies out suddenly. 

All right— I’ll accept that the ex- 
planation for the similarity of beliefs 
among Australian aborigines, Tierra 
del Fuegians, Africans, Eskimos and 
Polynesians is due solely to the fun- 
damental similarity of human nature 
the whole world over. 

Why is human nature that way? 

And so long as psychologists, an- 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




/0 




The Pipe Locator drawing above shows the type used by many practicing utilities engineers, 
the not- inhibited-by- theory types, for locating buried pipes and/or cables. In use, they are held 
like a two-gun Westerner’s two guns, pointing straight ahead, and at about chest height. Walk 
back and forth across the area under investigation, trying to intersect the line of the hunted pipe. 
The rods will swing to parallel the line of the pipe as you cross it — either swinging away from 
each other, or crossing each other. Which reaction turns up seems to depend on the individual, 
not on the rods. 

About eighty per cent of the adults seem to get results ; if you don’t, let your friends and 
associates try. 

Using them seems to be somewhat like “learning to hear” ; anyone with functional ears can 
hear — but it takes some training to interpret what you hear : e. g., distinguishing the sounds pro- 
duced by a thrush from those of a robin or blue jay. At first use of the rods, you’ll tend to react 
to all buried conduits; with practice, you’ll become more sophisticated in interpretation, and 
distinguish between, say, water, gas, and sewer pipes. 

The operation of these rods is scientifically impossible and is. logically, nonsense. This is 
extremely interesting, because they work — which, under the rules of the Scientific Method, means 
that the theory that Science embraces all real phenomena has encountered the fact that it doesn’t, 
and must, therefore, be abandoned. Suggested modification ; Science and only Science explains 
many real phenomena. 



thropologists and sociologists insist 
"We know it shouldn’t be that way,” 
without bothering to study why all 
human peoples are that way . . . why, 
so long they are apt to miss the fun- 
damentals of the fields they are inter- 
ested in. 

You cannot escape studying Magic, 
denying that there is any common 
phenomenon in the Universe, by 
saying "It’s just human nature.” Be- 
cause if you say that, then you are 
duty-bound to explain why human 
nature continues to be that way, mil- 
lennium after millennium. If it is in 
truth wasted effort, then any people 
who abandoned magic would have 
conserved that effort for other things, 
and would have been able to displace 
the competing tribes. 

Why is Magic fundamental in all 
human peoples? 



I suggest that the answer is "Be- 
cause there is a set of phenomena in 
the Universe that requires intelligent 
entities to have that characteristic.” 
Like it or not, Marklund in Flint, 
power company engineers in Eng- 
land, steel plant maintenance engi- 
neers in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 
and in a hundred other places, use 
dowsing rods to locate underground 
lines that they are interested in. An 
engineer with a job to do doesn’t 
give a damn whether the tool he uses 
is scientifically sound; he does care 
that it works for him. 

And they’re very strange tools in- 
deed; for Marklund, the rods locate 
water pipes, and don’t react to buried 
power cables. For power company 
engineers, they react faithfully to 
buried cables, and are not thrown off 
( Continued on page 159) 



WE MUST STUDY PS1 



7 




I 

I 

RUN THE RIM 

BY A. BERTRAM CHANDLER 

There are some men for whom Security is 
no reward — but it takes time to learn that! 



Illustrated by Sum men 
8 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




LOWLY and carefully 
— as befitted her years, 
which were many — the 
star tramp Ariel drop- 
ped down to Port For- 
lorn. Calver, her second mate, looked 
out and down from the control room 
viewports to the uninviting scene be- 
low, to the vista of almost barren 
hills and mountains scarred by mine 
workings, to the great slag heaps that 
were hills themselves, to the ugly lit- 
tle towns, each one of which was 
dominated by the tall, smoke belch- 
ing chimneys of factories and refin- 
eries, to the rivers that, even from 
this altitude, looked like sluggish 
streams of sewage. 

So this, he thought, is Lorn, indus- 
trial hub of the Rim Worlds. This 
is as far as I go. This is where 
I get off. There’s no farther to 
g°- 

Captain Bowers, satisfied that the 
ship was riding down easily under 
automatic control, turned to his sec- 
ond officer. 

"Are you sure that you want to pay 
off here, Mr. Calver?’’ he asked. 
"Are you quite sure? You’re a good 
officer, and we could use you. The 
Shakespearian Line mightn’t be up to 
Commission standards, but it’s not a 
bad outfit.’’ 

"Thank you, sir,’’ replied Calver, 
xaising his voice slightly to make 
himself heard over the subdued 
thunder of the rockets, "but I’m sure. 
I signed on in Elsinore with the un- 
derstanding that I was to be paid off 
on the Rim. The Third’s quite capa- 
ble of taking over.” 



"You want your head read,” grunt- 
ed Harris, the Mate. 

"Perhaps,” said Calver. 

And perhaps I do, he thought. 
How much of this is sheer masoch- 
ism, this flight from the warm, happy 
worlds of the Center to these desolate 
Rim planets? Could it have been the 
names that appealed to me? Thule, 
Ultimo, Faraway and Lorn . . . 

"The usual cross wind, damn it!” 
swore Bowers, hastily turning his at- 
tention to the controls. The old ship 
shuddered as the corrective blasts 
were fired and, momentarily, the 
noise in the control room rose to an 
intolerable level. 

When things had quietened down 
again Harris said, "It’s always windy 
on Lorn, and the wind is always cold 
and dusty and stinking with the 
fumes of burning sulfur . . .” 

"I’ll not be staying on Lorn,” said 
Calver. "I’ve been too long in Space 
to go looking for a shore job, espe- 
cially when there’s no inducement.” 

"Going to try the Rim Runners?” 
asked Captain Bowers. 

"Yes. I believe they’re short of 
officers.” 

"They always are," said Harris. 

"Why not stay with us?” queried 
the captain. 

"Thanks again, sir, but . . 

"The Rim Runners!” snorted the 
mate. "You’ll find an odd bunch 
there, Calver. Refugees from the In- 
terstellar Transport Commission, 
from the Survey Service, the Waver- 
ley Royal Mail and the Trans-Galac- 
tic Clippers . . .” 

"I’m a refugee from the Commis- 

9 




TO RUN THE RIM 




sion myself,” said Calver wryly. 

Port Forlorn was close now, too 
close for further conversation, the 
dirty, scarred concrete apron rushing 
up to meet them. Ariel dropped 
through a cloud of scintillating par- 
ticles, the dust raised by her back- 
blast and fired to brief incandescence. 
She touched, sagged tiredly, her struc- 
ture creaking like old bones. The sud- 
den silence, as the rockets died, seem- 
ed unnatural. 

- Harris broke it. "And their ships,” 
he said. "Their ships . . . All ancient 
crocks, mostly worn out Epsilon 
Glass tubs thrown out by the Com- 
mission. I’m told that they even have 
one or two of the old Ehrenhaft 
Drive jobs.” 

"Wasn’t Ariel once Epsilon Sex- 
tans?” asked Calver mildly. 

"Yes, but she’s different," said 
Harris affectionately. 

Yes, thought Calver, standing at 
the foot of the ramp to the air lock, 
Ariel was different. A worn-out Ep- 
silon Class wagon she may have been, 
but she still had pride, just as her 
master and officers still had pride in 
her. This Lorn Lady was a ship of 
the same class, probably no older 
than Ariel, but she looked a wreck. 

Calver looked down at his shoes, 
which had been highly polished 
when he left his hotel, saw that they 
were already covered with a tfrick 
film of dust. A sidewise glance down 
at his epaulettes- — -the new ones, with 
their Rim Runners second officer’s 
braid, on the old tunic — told him 
that they also were dusty. He disliked 

10 



to board a ship, any ship, untidily 
dressed. He brushed his shoulders 
with his hand, used a handkerchief, 
which he afterwards threw away, to 
restore the shine to his shoes. He 
climbed the shaky ramp. 

There was no air lock watch — but 
Calver had learned that the outward 
standards of efficiency diminished, 
almost according to the Law of In- 
verse Squares, with increasing dis- 
tance from the Galactic center. There 
was a telephone. After studying the 
selector board Calver pressed the but- 
ton labeled Chief Officer. There was 
no reply. He tried Control Room, 
Purser and then Captain. He replaced 
the useless instrument on its rest, 
opened the inner air lock door. He 
was agreeably surprised . to find that 
the manual controls worked easily 
and smoothly. He picked up his bags, 
went into the ship. He was familiar 
enough with the layout of this type 
of vessel and went straight to the 
axial shaft. The newer Epsilon Class 
ships boasted a light elevator for use 
in port. Calver was not amazed to 
discover that Lorn Lady did not run 
to such a luxury. 

There was somebody clattering 
down the spiral stairway that led up 
to the officers’ accommodation. Calver 
stood there and waited. The owner 
of the noisy feet dropped into view. 
He was a man of Calver’ s age, no 
longer young. His uniform was tight 
on his stocky frame. He wore Rim 
Runners epaulettes — the three gold 
bars of a chief officer with, above 
them, the winged wheel — but his cap 
badge was an elaborate affair of stars 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




and rockets surmounted by an ornate 
crown. 

He looked up at Calver when he 
reached the deck, making the tall 
man suddenly conscious of his gan- 
gling height. He said, ''You’ll be the 
new second. I’m the mate. MacLean’s 
the name. Welcome aboard.” 

They shook hands. 

''I'll go up to my cabin and drop 
my bags,” said Calver. "I’ve seen 
enough of Port Forlorn to last me 
a while so, if you like, I’ll keep the 
night aboard.” 

"Night aboard? There’s no ship- 
keeping here," laughed MacLean. 
"There’s no cargo working tonight 
either. The" night watchman will be 
on duty in an hour or so, and he’s 
fairly reliable.” 

Calver looked as shocked as he 
felt. 

"I know how you feel,” said the 
mate, "but you’ll get over it. I used 
to feel the same way myself when I 
first came out to the Rim — after the 
Royal Mail it seemed very slovenly.” 

"I’m afraid it does.” 

"You’re out of the Commission’s 
ships, aren’t you?” 

"Yes.” 

"I thought as much. You’re a typi- 
cal Commission officer — middle-aged 
before your . time, stiff and starchy 
and a stickler for regulations. Any- 
how, up you go and park your bags. 
I’ll wait for you here. Then we’ll 
go and have a couple or three 
drinks to wash this dust out of our 
throats.” 

Calver found his cabin without any 
trouble. It was, to his relief, reasona- 



bly clean. He left his bags under his 
bunk, went down to the air lock 
where MacLean was waiting for him. 
The two men walked down the ramp 
together. 

"You’ll not find Commission 
standards here,” said the mate. "Or, 
come to that, Royal Mail standards. 
We keep the ships safe and reasona- 
bly efficient, but there’s neither mon- 
ey nor labor to spare for spit and 
polish." 

"So I've noticed." 

"So I noticed, too, when I first 
came out to the Rim. And if I hadn’t 
told Commodore Sir Archibald Sin- 
clair to his face what an idiot he was 
I’d still be with the Royal Mail, still 
keeping my night on board in port 
and making sure that a proper air 
lock watch was being maintained, and 
all the rest of it. There’s not a bad 
little pub just outside the spaceport 
gates. Do you feel like trying it?” 

"As you please,” said Calver. 

The pub was better inside than out, 
almost achieving coziness. It was, at 
this early hour of the evening, prac- 
tically deserted. Calver and MacLean 
sat down at one of the tables. The 
slatternly girl who served them did 
not ask for their order but brought a 
bottle of whisky, with graduations 
up its side, two glasses and a jug of 
water. 

"They know me here,” said Mac- 
Lean unnecessarily. He raised his 
glass. "Here’s to crime.” 

After a few more drinks Calver 
said, "Would you mind putting me 
in the picture, MacLean ? They seem- 

11 



TO BUN THE RIU 




ed very vague in the office when I 
joined the Company." 

"They always are,” said the mate. 
"Besides, you hadn’t yet signed the 
Articles. I suppose you noticed the 
Secrecy Clause?” 

"I did.” 

”1 suppose you thought that it was 
a rather odd clause to find in a ship’s 
Articles. But it’s there for a reason. 
Your predecessor talked out of place 
and out of turn, and that’s why he’s 
doing his spell in the mines, under 
guard.” 

"What ! Surely they wouldn’t — ” 

"They would, Calver — and his case 
they did. Bear in mind that Rim 
Runners is, practically, a gov- 
ernment shipping line, and that all of 
us are automatically officers of the 
Naval Reserve . . . 

"Anyhow” — he glanced around, 
made sure that there was nobody 
within earshot — "this is the way , of 
it. Until very recently Rim Runners 
owned only a handful of ships and 
served only four planetary systems — 
those of Thule, Ultimo, Faraway and 
Lorn. Just puddle- jumping by our 
standards. Even then they had to keep 
on recruiting officers from the rest of 
the galaxy. They don’t like Deep 
Space, these Rim Worlders. They’re 
scared of it. I suppose that it’s be- 
cause for all their lives they’ve been 
hanging over the edge of the ultimate 
pit by their eyebrows. 

"But the Rim Government wants 
to expand, wants to become sufficient- 
ly powerful to be able to thumb its 
nose at Earth and the Federation. As 
you know, the Survey Service has al- 

12 



ways neglected the Rim. Rim Runners 
put their own survey ships into opera- 
tion. They did a sweep to the Galactic 
West — and found the anti-matter 
stars and planets. There was no room 
for expansion there. They ran to the 
East and found nothing but normal 
matter and quite a few suns with in- 
habited worlds. There’s Mellise, 
which is practically all water and in- 
habited by a race of intelligent am- 
phibians. There’s Tharn, whose peo- 
ple have yet to achieve an industrial 
civilization but who are as near hu- 
man as makes no difference. There’s 
Grollor, where the natives could be 
classed as humanoid and have the 
beginnings of space travel. There’s 
Stree, with its philosophical liz- 
ards . . .” 

"I can see,” said Calver, "that I’ll 
have to do some heavy swotting up 
on the Pilot Books.” 

MacLean laughed. "There aren’t 
any Pilot Books, Calver. Not yet. 
When there are, it’ll be we who’ve 
written them. Anyhow, we’re loading 
zinc and tin and cadmium tomorrow 
for Port Faraway on Faraway. We 
load on Faraway for the Eastern Cir- 
cuit. How does that suit you?” 

"The Eastern Circuit? The new 
worlds?” 

"Ay.” 

"Sounds interesting. But tell me — 
why all the secrecy?” 

"Because our Government wants to 
form its own Federation, out here on 
the Rim, wants to have the whole 
thing sewn up tight by pacts and 
treaties and trade agreements before 
any Survey Service ship comes nosing 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




out this way. All known Federation 
agents have been rounded up and are 
being kept in protective custody. 
Pickering, your predecessor, was an 
ex-Lieutenant Commander out of the 
Survey Service and he had the odd 
idea that he still owed them some 
loyalty, in spite of the court-martial 

that was the cause of his leav- 

* »» 

in g. 

"And are you loyal to the Rim?” 
asked Calver. "I know that there’s 
no likelihood that the Kingdom of 
Waverley will ever cast covetous eyes 
on this sector of the galaxy, but sup- 
pose they did?" 

"I'm a Rim Worlder,” said Mac- 
Lean at last. "I wasn’t born out here, 
but the Rim has always had its ap- 
peal for me. It’s a last frontier, I sup- 
pose, and it will be until some clever 
bugger comes up with an intergalactic 
drive. And out here one can be a 
spaceman, a real spaceman, without 
being all the time tangled up in red 
tape. And now there are the new 
worlds, and there’ll be more of 
them.” He looked around. "The 
place is filling up," he said. "No 
more shop talk.” 

The place was filling up. There 
were roughly dressed men from the 
mines, a few overly neat men from 
offices. There were women — some of 
them drably and dowdily respectable, 
others whose too red lips and overly 
made up faces were like a uniform. 
There was a slim girl who began to 
wring a plaintive melody from a 
piano accordion. She flashed a smile 
at the two spacemen as she played. 

TO RUN THE RIM 



MacLean sang softly in time with 
the music. 

"Exiled from home 
By woman’s whim, 

We’ll ever roam 
And run the Rim . . 

"This,” said a female voice, huski- 
ly attractive, "is where he usually 
starts to cry into his whisky.” 

“That’s a lie, Arlen,” said Mac- 
Lean, "and you know it.” 

Calver turned in his chair. He saw 
the purser, whom he had already met, 
and, beside him, a tall woman with 
the silver bars of a Catering Officer 
on her epaulettes. She was a little too 
slim, and her features were too 
strong for conventional prettiness 
and bore the ineradicable marks of 
past strain. There was a startling sil- 
ver streak in her burnished, dark 
hair. 

"You’ll be Calver,” she said. "The 
new second.” 

"I am,” said Calver. 

"I’m Arlen. Chief cook and bottle 
washer.” 

She extended a slim hand. Calver 
took it. Her eyes, he noticed, were a 
blue so deep as to be almost black. 
Her smile was a little crooked, which 
made it all the more attractive. 

Pender, the little Purser, bustled up 
with two extra chairs, set them in 
place noisily. The sullen waitress 
brought more glasses. 

Arlen sat down gracefully. 

"Try to imagine you’re back in the 
Royal Mail, MacLean,” she said. "Be 
a gentleman and pour me a drink.” 

MacLean poured drinks. 

"We’re all lushes on the Rim, Cal- 

13 




ver,” said Arlen. She had, decided 
Calver, already taken more than a 
few on board. "We’re all lushes, even 
though we’ve learned the hard way 
that drinking solves nothing. But we 
don’t like happy drunks. The last sec- 
ond mate but one, Wallis, he was a 
happy drunk. He was so happy that 
he could never be trusted with the 
loading. It was all one to him if the 
center of gravity was up in the con- 
trol room or somewhere under the 
main venturi. MacLean’s not like 
that. MacLean will cry into his whis- 
ky, and pour a little of it over that 
absurd Royal Mail cap badge that he 
insists on wearing, and will stagger 
back on board tonight full of the 
woes of all the universe as well a!s his 
own — and God help the stevedore if 
he stows one slab of zinc one mil- 
limeter out of place tomorrow!” 

"Stow it, Arlen,” said MacLean. 

"Are you a happy drunk, Calver?” 
she asked. 

"No,” he said. 

"Then you’re one of us. You’ll 
make a real Rim Runner, skimming 
the edge of eternity in a superannu- 
ated rustbucket held together with 
old string and chewing gum and tak- 
ing a masochistic pleasure in it. You 
have run from yourself until you can’t 
run any further, and there’s a sort of 
desperate joy in that, too. You don’t 
drink to forget. You don’t drink to 
get into a state of maudlin, mindless 
happiness. You drink to intensify 
your feelings, you — ” 

"Stop it, Arlen!” snapped Mac- 
Lean. 

She got to her feet. 



"If that’s the way you feel,” she 
said, "I’d better leave.” 

"Can’t a man have a drink in peace 
without all this amateur psychiatry?” 
asked the mate. "I drink because I 
like drinking. Period.” 

"Good night,” she said coldly. 

"I’ll see you back, Arlen,” said 
Calver. 

"No thanks,” she said. "I’m a big 
girl now. I’m not afraid of the dark. 
Would I be with Rim Runners if I 
were?” 

Calver saw that the girl with the 
accordion was drifting towards their 
table, that Pender was already ex- 
changing glances with one of the 
bold eyed prostitutes. He knew how 
the evening was going to develop, 
and he wanted no part of it. He stood 
up, put his hand under Arlen’s elbow 
and began to steer her towards the 
door. 

"Good night, MacLean,” he said. 
"Good night, Pender." 

"What’s die hurry, Calver?” asked 
the mate. "The night’s a pup.” 

"I’m rather tired,” said Calver. 

"See you in the morning, then.” 

The musician and the other woman 
took the vacated seats as Calver and 
Arlen reached the door. The waitress 
was bringing another bottle of 
whisky.' 

It was cold outside, and the gusty 
wind filled their eyes with dust. It 
was not the sort of night that one 
finds pleasure in stargazing, yet Cal- 
ver looked to the sky. The gleaming 
lens of the galaxy was almost set, 
only one last glimmering parabola of 



14 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




cold fire visible low in the west. 
Overhead the sky was dark, the black- 
ness intensified by the sparse and dim 
nebulosities that were the, as yet, un- 
reachable island universes. 

Galver shivered. 

"It’s frightening, isn’t it?” said 
Arlen. "It’s frightening. Yet it has 
something.” 

"Something?” he asked. "Or — 
nothing ?” 

"There are easier and faster ways 
of finding nothing,” she said. 

"Why didn’t you take one?’’ he 
asked brutally. 

"Why didn’t you? I'll tell you. Be- 
cause you’re like the rest of us. I 
don’t know your history, any more 
than you know mine, but something 
happened to smash the career that 
you were carving out for yourself in 
the Commission’s service — something 
that was your fault and nobody else’s. 



You hit rock bottom, but you refused 
to admit it. You found that there 
were depths below rock bottom, even. 
You decided that the only salvation 
lay in a real voyage, as well as a 
symbolic one, to the very edge of the 
night — ” 

"And does this theory of yours ap- 
ply to all the Rim Runners?” 

"To most of us. Not to the Old 
Man — he was born out here, on 
Thule. The only thing that he’s tun- 
ning away from is the Grim Reaper; 
he’s two hundred years old if he’s a 
day. Pender’s a Rim Worlder, too. 
So’s Levine, our psionic radio opera- 
tor. 

"But there’s Bendix, the Interstel- 
lar Drive Engineer — he’s out of the 
Trans -Galactic Clippers. There’s Re- 
nault, in charge of the Reaction 
Drive — he was Chief of a Beta Class 
liner." 




TO RUN THE RIM 



15 



''I’ve heard of him,” said Calver. 
''I’ve never sailed with him.” 

"Brentano, Radio Communica- 
tions, used to be in a quite respectable 
little outfit called Cluster Lines. Old 
Doc Malone had a flourishing prac- 
tice in Port Austral, in the Centurian 
System. MacLean, as you know, was 
in the Waverley Royal Mail.” 

"And you?” 

"Another refugee from the Com- 
mission,” she said. "But I was ashore, 
on Earth, for a few years before I 
came out here.” 

The spaceport gate was ahead of 
them. The guard on duty looked at 
them, at their uniforms. 

He said, "Good evening, Mrs. Ar- 
len. Back early tonight.” 

"Somebody has to be up in the 
morning to cook breakfast for these 
spacehounds,” she said. 

"And this gentleman?” 

"Our new second mate.” 

The guard pressed the button that 
opened the gate. Arlen and Calver 
passed through. Ahead of them was 
the ship, black against the dark sky, 
only a dim yellow glow of light shin- 
ing from the air lock. 

"The Lorn Lady,” said Arlen. 
"The poor old Lorn Lady. When I 
hear people talking about her I al- 
ways wonder if they’re referring to 
the ship, or to me. Do you know what 
they used to call me? Calamity Jane 
Lawler. That was before I was mar- 
ried. It’s Calamity Jane Arlen now.” 
They walked up the ramp to the air 
lock, Calver steadying the girl with 
his arm. They got past the watchman 
— an ex-spaceman by the looks of 

16 



him, and a heavy drinker — without 
waking him. They climbed the spiral 
staircase to the officers’ flat. 

They went first into the little pan- 
try adjoining the messroom. Arlen 
switched on the percolator. In a mat- 
ter of seconds it began to chuckle 
softly to itself. The woman drew two 
mugs of the bitter, black brew. 
"Sugar, Calver? Cream?” 

"Just sugar, thanks.” 

"I don’t know why I drink this 
muck,” she said. "It’ll sober me up, 
and I don’t want to be sober. When 
I’ve had a few drinks I can accept the 
coldness, the loneliness, and make 
them part of me. When I’m sober 
they . . . they frighten me.” 

"Lawler . . .” said Calver slowly. 
"Calamity Jane Lawler. The name 
rings a bell. Weren’t you in Alpha 
Scorpii at one time?” 

"Yes,” she said flatly. "I was. It 
was when we had the outbreak of 
food poisoning, and it was when 
some fool pointed out that something 
always happened aboard any ship that 
I was in. Hence the name. It stuck. 
The worst of it is that I do seem to 
be an accident prone sort of person, 
even ashore. When I left the Com- 
mision’s service, when I married, the 
calamities still kept on coming. So — ■” 
"What happened?" asked Calver. 
"What happened to you?” she 
countered. "We don’t know each 
other well enough yet to start swap- 
ping life stories. I doubt if we ever 
shall.” 

Calver finished his coffee. 

"Good night, Arlen,” he said. 
"Good night,” she replied dully. 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




Feeling both helpless and useless 
Calver left her there in the little pan- 
try, went to his cabin and turned 
in. 

He was surprised at the speed 
with which he was able to adjust 
himself to the rather slovenly routine 
of Lorn Lady. She was pitifully short- 
handed by the standards to which he 
was accustomed; there was no third 
officer, there were no junior engineers 
for either the Interstellar or the In- 
terplanetary Drives, the surgeon was 
also the biochemist and, as such, in 
charge of hydroponics, tissue culture 
and the algae vats. There were no 
cadets to do all the odd jobs that 
were beneath the dignity of the offi- 
cers — such jobs were done if they 
were essential, otherwise they remain- 
ed undone. 

Safety first, MacLean had said. 
Efficiency second. Spit and polish 
this year, next year, some time, never. 
Yet the gleaming, ever-precessing 
gyroscopes of the Mannschenn Drive 
Unit sang softly and smoothly, with 
never a stammer, and the pumps that 
drove the fluid propellant into the 
furnace of the Pile functioned with 
an efficiency that could have been the 
envy of many a better found vessel. 
Old Doc Malone was an efficient 
"farmer," and there was never any 
.shortage of green salads or fresh meat 
in the mess; the algae served only as 
air and water purifiers, never as an 
article of diet. 

Yet she was old, the Lorn Lady. 
Machinery can be renewed piece by 
piece, but there comes a time when 



the shell plating of the hull holding 
that same machinery is almost porous, 
when every structural member suffers 
from the fatigue that comes to all 
metal with the passage of the years. 

She was old, and she was tired, 
and the age of her and the fatigue of 
her were mirrored in the frail body 
of Captain Engels, her master. He 
was the oldest man that Calver had 
ever met, even in Space where ex- 
treme longevity, barring accidents, is 
the rule rather than the exception. A 
few sparse strands of yellowish white 
hair straggled over the thin parch- 
ment covering his skull. His uniform 
was too big for the fragile, withered 
body it covered. Only his eyes, pale 
blue and bleak, were alive. 

He worried the officers very little, 
keeping to his own accommodation 
most of the time. Yet any minor 
malfunctioning, any deviation from 
normal routine, no matter how trivial, 
would bring him at once to the con- 
trol room. He would say nothing, yet 
his very presence would induce in the 
officer of the watch a sense of gross 
inadequacy and, with it, the resolve 
not to let the thing, whatever it was, 
occur again. 

There was very little camaraderie 
aboard the ship whilst she was in 
Space; watch and watch routine gives 
small opportunity for social inter- 
course. But, decided Calver, there 
would not have been much social life 
even if the ship had been adequately 
manned. She carried too heavy a 
cargo of regrets. With MacLean he 
might have succeeded in striking up 
a real friendship, but the only times 

17 



TO EUN THE RIM 




they met were at the changes of 
watches. He would have liked to have 
gotten to know Jane Arlen better — 
but she kept him, as she kept all 
others aboard the ship, at arm’s 
length. 

The voyage to Faraway passed, as 
all voyages pass. There were no emer- 
gencies. The landing at Port Faraway 
was slow and painful, old Captain 
Engels refusing to trust the auto-pilot 
and treating the ship as an extension, 
of his own aged and brittle body. 
Discharge and loading progressed 
according to plan. 

Calver was able to spend two eve- 
nings ashore, in Faraway City, during 
the time that Lorn Lady was in port. 
On the first of these he was by him- 
self. He had a meal — which was 
vastly inferior to anything served by 
Arlen aboard the ship — and then a 
few drinks. He went to a solido"show 
and realized, one quarter of the way 
through, that he had already seen it, 
years before and in much happier cir- 
cumstances. He left the theater and 
returned to the ship. Old Doc Ma- 
lone was still awake and let Calver 
have a bottle of the so-called Irish 
whisky that he distilled in his spare 
time. 

The second evening Arlen was 
with him. She had met him in the 
alleyway outside the officers’ cabins as 
he was on his way to the axial shaft. 

"Wait for me, Calver,’’ she said. 
"I’ll come with you.’’ 

"I didn’t think you bothered the 
beach much, Arlen,” he said. 

"I don’t as a rule. But every now 

18 



and again I have to get off this ship 
before I go mad.” 

”1 feel the same,” he said. 

"You’ve been here only a dog- 
watch,” she said scornfully. 

They took the monorail from the 
port to Faraway City. They tried to 
lose themselves in the feverish, ar- 
tificial gaiety that is common to all 
the Rim World settlements, but it 
was hopeless. They finished up at last 
in a quiet drinking place, one of the 
very few with subdued lighting and 
no noisy music. 

"How do you like the Lorn Lady ?" 
asked Arlen abruptly. 

"She feeds well.” 

"I know that, too. Perhaps I 
should ask, ’How do you like the 
Rim?’ ” 

"I don’t,” he said. "Even though 
I’m no telepath I can feel the mass 
fear, the dread of the cold and the 
dark.” 

"Why don’t you go back to where 
you came from?” 

"You should know the answer to 
that one, Arlen. I was Chief Officer 
in the Commission’s ships, and by 
leaving them I insulted them. That’s 
the way they always look at it. I can 
never get back into big ships.” 

"There are plenty of smaller lines 
far superior to Rim Runners.” 

"I know. And they run to ports 
also served by the Commission. I 
should always have the reminder of 
what could have been, if . . . I’d al- 
ways be seeing some big Alpha or 
Beta Class liner and thinking, I could 
have been master of her by now, 
if—” 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




"'If ■what?” she asked bluntly. 

He said, "I like you, Arlen, but 
I’m not going to do a psychological 
strip-tease just to keep you amused.” 

She said, ”1 like you. As you know 
very well, it’s customary for the aver- 
age spacewoman to have her steady 
from among the ship’s officers. I’ve 
never been like that. MacLean tried 
hard when I first joined Lorn Lady, 
but never got any place. Pender tried 
— he took the attitude that the cater- 
ing officer was one of the purser’s 
perquisites. The engineers and the 
radio men have made an odd pass 
or two.” 

"So?” 

"I think that we should know a 
little more about each other, about 
each other’s backgrounds right from 
the start.” 

"There’s not much to tell,” he said. 
"I was, as you know, in the Commis- 
sion’s service. I was mate of one of 
the big Beta Class jobs. I was mar- 
ried, fairly happily, with a couple of 
children. One voyage from Caribbea 
to Port Austral I met the woman, the 
only woman. Funnily enough, her 
name was Jane, the same as yours. 
There was the usual mess — resigna- 
tion from the Commission’s service, 
divorce and all the rest of it. Doro- 
thy, my wife, remarried — happily, I 
hope. Jane and I married. Her father 
found me a shore job — a too well 
paid sinecure, actually — in the firm 
of which he was president. What 
does a spaceman know about the 
manufacture of personalized wrist ra- 
dios? Anyhow, it all worked out not 
too badly for a while until Jane be- 

TO RUN THE RIM 



gan to realize that a spaceman aboard 
his ship and the same spaceman 
holding down an office chair are two 
different animals. The glamour began 
to fade. It went out like a snuffed 
candle the night that she went alone 
to a party to which I had not been 
invited, returning unexpectedly to 
find me entertaining a girl I had 
picked up in a bar. Cutting a long 
story short, I didn’t bother to pack. 
I just got out. Since then I’ve been 
drifting out towards the Rim. I’ve 
got here now. 

"And you?” 

She said, "Not a very pretty story.” 

"Fair exchange,” he insisted. 

"If you wish it. In my case it’s 
just that I’ve always been Calamity 
Jane. I left the Commission to get 
married. My marriage was very 
happy. A drunken surface car driver 
smashed it. Don was killed. I wasn’t 
That’s all.” 

He said, knowing that. the words 
were inadequate, "I’m sorry.” 

She said, "I like you, Calver. I 
think that I like you rather too much 
to see anything happen to you. I’m 
afraid that if we do start something 
the old Calamity Jane business will 
begin again.” 

"What have I got to lose?” he 
asked. Then — "That was rather 
selfish, wasn’t it?” 

"It was,” she said. 

It was on Tham that they lost 
MacLean. 

The people of Tharn are human, 
except for very minor differences. 
There is a yellowish tinge to their 

19 




complexions and the coloration of 
their hair is usually either blue or 
green. Their women are, however, 
obviously mammalian. 

It was on Tharn that Lorn Lady 
discharged her parcel of such tools 
and instruments as would be of value 
to a people with only the beginnings 
of an industrial technology. There 
was a large consignment of magnetic 
compasses, which would fetch good 
prices among the fishermen and mer- 
chant mariners. There were needles 
and scissors, and there were ham- 
mers, planes, chisels and saws. There 
were scientific textbooks for the Tem- 
ple University. 

It was on Tharn that Lorn Lady 
discharged these goods, and on Tharn 
that she lay idle until the commence- 
ment of loading the following morn- 
ing. After the evening meal Calver 
and Jane Arlen went ashore together. 
The mate and the purser were al- 
ready ashore — they did not ever, as 
Bendix, the interstellar drive engi- 
neer rather bitterly remarked — waste 
any time. Bendix, aided by Renault 
and Brentano, had to stay on 
board to overhaul the Mannschenn 
Drive unit. Old Doc Malone was 
playing chess with Captain Engels 
and Levine, the psionic radio officer, 
was in his cabin with his dog’s brain 
amplifier, trying to find out if there 
were any practicing telepaths on the 
planet. 

Calver and Arlen walked slowly 
from the primitive spaceport to the 
town. The way lay over rough heath- 
land, but it was pleasant walking 
after the weeks of free fall. The wes- 

20 



tering sun, bloated and bloody, was 
behind them, and in the huddle of 
buildings ahead of them the soft yel- 
low lights, primitive affairs of burn- 
ing natural gas, were already spring- 
ing into being. Blue smoke from the 
chimneys of the town hung in layers 
in the still air. There was the smell 
of frost. 

"Things,” said Arlen, "are a lot 
better now. I used to dread going 
ashore just as much as I dreaded stay- 
ing aboard. Now, I’m beginning to 
enjoy it.” 

"I’m glad,” said Calver. "But 
where do we spend our money, Jane? 
And on what?” 

"Just a quiet evening in one of the 
inns,” she said. "The liquor here 
is not bad; as you know, we’re load- 
ing a fair consignment of it tomor- 
row. There’s usually a musician or a 
conjurer or juggler to amuse the 
customers. There’ll be a blazing fire, 
as like as not.” 

They were in the town now. They 
walked slowly along the rutted street, 
between the stone houses with their 
high, thatched roofs. Shops were still 
doing business, their open windows 
illumined by flaring gas jets. It could 
almost, thought Calver, have passed 
for a street scene in the Middle Ages 
back on Earth. Almost — But gas 
lighting was unknown in those days, 
and the women did not wear dresses 
that exposed most of their legs, and 
any animals abroad would have been 
dogs and cats, not things like elon- 
gated, segmented tortoises. Even so, 
there must have been very similar dis- 
plays of rather ambiguous looking 

ASTOUNDING- SCIENCE FICTION 




meat, of fish, of fruit, of rich cloth 
and of cloth far from rich, of jewelry 
both clumsy and exquisite. 

They stopped at a shop and Calver, 
with Arlen translating, bought for 
the girl a bracelet of beaten silver, 
exchanging for it what seemed to 
him to be an absurdly small number 
of the square copper coins. The robed 
shopkeeper bowed low as they left 
his premises. 

"He,” said Arlen, "is one of those 
who like us.’’ She lifted her slim 
arm so that the bracelet caught thfe 
light. "He gave you quite a good 
discount on this." . 

"You said that he was one of the 
ones who like us. I'd have thought 
that everybody would have liked 
us.” 

"The shopkeepers are pleased to 
see us here — of course. So are the 
fishermen and sailors, to whom our 
compasses are a godsend. The arti- 
sans, who buy our fine new tools, 
welcome us. The priests at the Univ- 
ersity look on us as a source of new 
knowledge that will not run dry for 
centuries." 

"Who else is there?” 

"The peasants, who have the typi- 
cal peasant mentality. The land-own- 
ing noblemen who sense, and not al- 
together dimly, that we are ushering 
in the forces of evolution and revolu- 
tion that will destroy them.” 

"Aren’t we taking rather a risk, 
coming ashore .like this?” 

She laughed. "This is a Univer- 
sity town. The priesthood maintains 
a very efficient police force. If any- 
body harmed any one of us, the 

TO RUN THE RIM 



High Priest would see to it that he 
died very slowly. Old Commodore 
Grimes, to give him his due, made a 
really good job of getting things set 
up in our favor.” 

They paused outside the door of an 
inn, looked up at the sign that hung 
there, illuminated by a gas jet. Arlen 
chuckled. "This is new; it wasn’t here 
the last time we were on Tharn. It 
used to be some sort of dragon, done 
in red. Now it’s a spaceship." 

"The innkeeper,” said Calver, is 
obviously one of those who like us. 
He might even shout us a free drink 
or two. Shall we. go in?" 

They went in. 

The place was warm and the air 
was blue with smoke. Calver thought 
at first that it came from pipes and 
cigarettes, then saw that it was eddy- 
ing from the big open fireplace. Even 
so, there was the aroma of tobacco. 
Puzzled, Calver looked around, saw 
MacLean and Pender sitting at a table 
in the corner. A giggling girl, who 
was trying to smoke a cigarette, was 
on Pender’s lap. MacLean was, as 
usual, singing softly. 

"Exiled from home 
By woman’s whim, 

We’ll ever roam 
And run the Rim . . .” 

Another girl stood before him, -do- 
ing her . best to pick out the notes on 
a stringed instrument like a small 
harp. 

Arlen frowned. She said, "I sup- 
pose it’s all right, but those two are 
liable to get themselves into serious 
trouble one day.” 



21 




"Nobody here seems to be worry- 
ing,” said Calver. 

Most of the men in the place were, 
obviously, seamen and fishermen — 
knee boots or thigh boots combined 
with clothing of d^rk blue seem to 
be almost standard wear throughout 
the galaxy for men who follow the 
sea. Most of them had girls of their 
own, and those who did not were not 
the kind to allow women to interfere 
with serious drinking. Almost all of 
them raised their mugs to the space- 
man and spacewoman in salutation. 
Room was made for them at one of 
the larger tables and tankards of the 
dark, sweet brew were pressed upon 
them. 

Calver felt a little out of things as 
Arlen entered into a spirited conver- 
sation with the tough, grizzled sea- 
man seated on her left. She conde- 
scended now and again to translate 
some of his sallies. 

"He’s master of a merchantman,” 
she said, "and he says that he’ll sign 
me on as his cook any time I want 
a change.” 

"I’d starve without you, Jane,” 
said Calver. 

He let his attention wander from 
the incomprehensible conversation. 
He looked to the corner where Mac- 
Lean and Pender were sitting, saw 
that they were getting along very 
well indeed with the two native 
girls. 

The door opened with a crash. 

A young man strode arrogantly 
into the hall, followed by half a doz- 
en others who were, obviously, his 
servants or retainers. He wore emer- 

22 



aid trunks, scarlet boots and a scarlet 
jacket. A great scarlet plume nodded 
above his wide-brimmed black hat. 
All of his clothing was lavishly orna- 
mented with gold embroidery. A 
long sword swung at his left side. He 
was, obviously, neither seaman, fish- 
erman nor artisan. He could not, 
thought Calver, possibly be one of 
the priestly scholars from the Univer- 
sity. He must be one of the land-own- 
ing nobility of whom Arlen had 
spoken. 

He glared around him, obviously 
looking for somebody. He saw the 
two spacemen with their girls in the 
far corner. His mouth tightened and 
his black eyes gleamed dangerously. 

"Sayonee!" he called. Then, again, 
"Sayonee!” 

The woman on MacLean’s lap 
looked up and around. Her lip curl- 
ed. She spat like an angry cat. 

"Oh, oh!” whispered Arlen. "I 
don’t like this. She told him to go 
and get lost.” 

The young man, his followers close 
behind him, pushed to the corner of 
the room, careless of the overset bot- 
tles and tankards in his wake. He 
stood there, glaring down at Mac- 
Lean and Pender. The mate returned 
his glare, his face flushed under the 
carroty hair. The girl, Sayonee, look- 
ed frightened, whispered something 
to MacLean, tried to wriggle off his 
lap. MacLean said, in English, "I’m 
not giving you up to any planet lub- 
ber.” 

Pender said, "Mac . . . Hadn’t you 
better ... ?” 

"Shut up!” snapped MacLean. 
ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




"MacLean !” called Calver, "don’t 
be a fool!” 

"Stay out of this, Calver,” shouted 
the mate. "And if you’re scared, get 
out, and take that frosty-faced Arlen 
with you!” 

The aristocrat said something. It 
must have been insulting. MacLean, 
obviously, knew what it meant — the 
spacefarer usually learns the curses of 
any strange language long before he 
is capable of carrying out a polite 
conversation. The blood drained from 
his face, leaving it a deathly white. 
He got to his feet, unceremoniously 
dumping Sayonee. Her little harp 
jangled discordantly as she fell. He 
picked up his mug from the table, let 
the Tharnian have the contents full in 
the face. He took a step forward, his 
lists clenched and ready. 

Drunk as he was, he would have 
used them well — if he had been al- 
lowed to. 

The Tharnian’s sword whipped 
out from its scabbard and ran him 
through before he could make an- 
other gesture either of offense or 
defense. 

There were shouts and screams, 
there was the crash of overturned 
furniture and shattered glassware. 
From somewhere above there was the 
furious, incessant jangling of a bell. 
Calver was on his feet, about to go 
to MacLean’s help — although he 
knew that he was beyond help — 
when he remembered Jane Arlen. He 
realized that she was standing beside 
him. 

"Get out of this!” he snapped. 

TO RUN THE RIM 



"No.” 

"Then keep behind me!” 

The aristocrat was pushing towards 
the door, his men on either side of 
him and behind him. He held his 
sword still, and the blood on it 
gleamed scarlet in the flaring gas 
light. His bullies had drawn long 
knives. One of them staggered as a 
flung bottle struck him on the temple. 
Another bottle shattered in midair as 
the long sword leapt up to deflect 
it. 

He saw Calver and Arlen. A thin, 
vicious grin split his face. At Aden’s 
side the old merchant captain growl- 
ed something incomprehensible. Cal- 
ver saw that he, too, had drawn a 
knife. For a moment he feared attack 
from this quarter, then realized that 
this was an ally, that most of the sea- 
men and fishermen in the inn were 
allies. 

But they were not trained fighters 
— not trained fighters of men, that is. 
With wind and weather, with strain- 
ing, refractory gear and with the 
monsters of the deep they could cope, 
but all their fights with their own 
kind had been limited to the occa- 
sional tavern brawl. This was more 
than a mere tavern brawl. This was 
a one-sided battle against soldiers, ex- 
perienced killers, intelligently led. 

The swordsman was close now. 
The sea captain shouted and jumped 
forward to meet him. He fell into a 
crouch, holding his knife for the 
deadly, upward thrust. The blade of 
the sword flickered harmlessly over 
his left shoulder. Had he been fight- 
ing one man only he might well have 

23 




succeeded-but one of the retainers 
on him. driving his blade deep 

into the old man s back 

Calver picked up a chair, held t 
before h.m as a shield. He jabbed 
the three legs of it at the aristocrat s 
face, felt a savage satisfaction as flesh 
and cartilage gave beneath the blow. 



He swung his makeshift weapon 
down and around, felled the man 
who had stabbed the old captain in 
the back. He brought it up again just 
in time to intercept and deflect the 
vicious sword. 

He heard Arlen scream. 

He dare not look around, but from 
the corner of his eye he saw that two 
of the retainers had seized her, were 
dragging her towards the door. Hos- 
tage or victim— he had no time to 
reason it out. He was fighting for 
his life, and he knew it. He was fight- 
ing with a clumsy weapon held in 



unskilled hands against a finely bal-: 
anced instrument of murder wielded; 
by the hands of a master. His body 
he could protect, but his legs were 
already bleeding from a score of 
wounds, some of them deep. ( 

He fell back, saw the smile that ap-l 
peared on the blood-smeared face of ; 
his enemy, the twisted smile under' 
the broken nose. He fell back as 
though in terror. He hoped that the 
Tharnian would be in no hurry to 
follow, that he would decide to play 
a cat and mouse game, to finish him 
almost at leisure. 

He thought, I’m no swordsman, 
but I know something of ballistics. 

With all his strength he threw the 
chair, followed it before it could 
reach its target. He saw the Tharnian, 
foolishly, bring up his sword to 
parry the heavy missile, saw the point 
of it penetrate the thick wooden seat. 




24 



AST.OUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



Then the other man was down and 
Calver was on top of him, his hands 
seeking the other’s throat. Somebody 
was pulling at his shoulders, trying 
to drag him off his enemy. He tensed 
himself for the blade between his 
shoulders, but it never came. Muscu- 
lar hands closed over his own, pull- 
ing them away from the Tharnian’s 
bruised neck. He was jerked to his 
feet. He glared at the men who sur- 
rounded him — the hard, competent 
looking men who wore a uniform 
of short, black tunics over yellow 
trunks, who carried polished wooden 
clubs. He saw the nobleman’s bullies 
being efficiently bound by other uni- 
formed men. 

He saw — and he found it hard to 
forgive himself for having forgotten 
her — Arlen. She was pale, and her 
uniform was torn, but she seemed un- 
harmed. 

"The party’s over," she said, with 
an attempt at flippancy. "These are 
the University police. They will es- 
cort us back to the ship.” 

"And MacLean?” he asked. 

"Dead," she replied flatly. "Pen- 
der’s all right. He kept under the 
table.” 

"And what will happen to . . . 
him?” asked Calver, nodding to- 
wards the swordsman who, like his 
followers, was being expertly trussed. 

"I don’t know. I don’t want to 
know. His father, who’s the local 
baron or whatever, might be able to 
buy him back from the High Priest 
before justice has run its full course. 
I doubt it.” 

"I feel rather sorry for him," said 



Calver slowly. "After all, MacLean 
did steal his girl." 

"And he,” she flared, "did his best 
to steal yours!” 

"I forgot,” he muttered. 

"You’d better not make a habit of 
it,” she said coldly. 

Lorn Lady lifted from Tharn the 
following evening, having taken 
aboard her cargo of casks of the local 
liquor, gold, and the baled pelts of 
the great, richly furred mountain 
bears. Before her departure the High 
Priest himself came down to the 
spaceport to make a formal apology 
to Captain Engels for the events of 
the previous evening. He spoke in 
English. 

He said, "There are those on 
Tharn who hate and fear you, cap- 
tain, who hate and fear the knowl- 
edge that will set all men free.” 

"I am afraid, Your Wisdom,” said 
the captain, "that my own officer was 
in part to blame for what happened.” 
"The girl was not Lanoga’s prop- 
erty,” said the priest. "Lanoga’s ac- 
tions were aimed as much against the 
University as against your people.” 
"And Lanoga?” asked Calver who, 
as chief officer, was present. 

"If you delay your departure," said 
the High Priest, "you will be able to 
witness his execution tomorrow.” 
"We have to maintain our sched- 
ule,” said Captain Engels. 

When the priest and his attendants 
had gone, Calver asked, "Isn’t he 
rather sticking his neck out, sir? He 
has his police, but surely the barons 
can muster enough men to wipe out 

26 



TO RUN THE RIM 




the town and crush the University. 
He’s no fool. Surely he must realize 
that.” 

"He's no fool, Mr. Calver,” said 
the Old Man. "Furthermore, he 
wants the barons to inarch on the 
town." He hesitated. "You’re the 
mate, now. There are one or two 
things you have to learn. One of 
them is that many of the crates and 
cases on the manifest as containing 
carpenters’ tools contain ironmongery 
of a somewhat different kind. Our 
friend the High Priest is sitting pretty 
on top of a well stocked arsenal of 
machine guns and automatic pistols.” 

"But Federation law . . .” 

"If the Federation concerned itself 
with the well-being of the Rim we 
would respect its laws. Secure for 
Space, Mr. Calver.” 

"Secure for Space, sir,’’ repeated 
Calver. 

So Lorn Lady lifted from Tharn 
with Calver as her chief officer and 
with Brentand, the Electronic Radio 
Officer, as a not too inefficient acting 
second mate. Once clear of the planet 
she set her course for the star around 
which revolved Grollor, but the 
Mannschenn Drive was not activated, 
as usually was the case, once accelera- 
tion had ceased. Any change in the 
mass of the ship when the Drive is in 
operation can have catastrophic con- 
sequences. 

Carefully, reverently almost, Mac- 
Lean’s shrouded body was carried to 
the air lock, was placed inside the 
little compartment. Smoothly, silently 
the inner door shut. There was a brief 
sobbing of pumps as the air lock 

26 



pressure built up to four ship atmos- 
pheres. Outside the air lock stood the 
captain and his officers, the magnetic 
soles of their shoes holding them to 
the deck. Engels, in his dry, cracked 
old voice, read from the little book 
' in his hand. 

Calver listened to the solemn 
words, to the ages-old ritual. He 
wanted hard to believe that this was 
not for MacLean the end, the ulti- 
mate nothingness, but he found him- 
self incapable of doing so. This was 
not the first funeral in deep space in 
his experience — but the others had 
been in towards the Center, with the 
bright stars above and below and to 
all sides, where it was not hard to 
regard those same stars as the verita- 
ble Hosts of Heaven. Here, on the 
Rim, the final negation was too close 
to the living; it must be closer still 
to the dead. 

"We therefore commit his body td 
the deep ..." read the captain. 

Calver pulled the lever. The light 
over the air lock door changed from 
green to red. The structure of the 
ship shook ever so slightly. MacLean 
— or what was left of MacLean — was 
now outside. Would he, wondered 
Calver, plunge into some blazing sun 
years or centuries or millennia from 
now? Or would his frozen body cir- 
cle the Rim forever? The maudlin 
words of the song of which the dead 
Mate had been so fond sprang into 
his mind. 

We'll ever roam 

And run the Rim . . . 

Calver pulled the second lever. 
Again the pumps sobbed. The light 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




changed from red to green. The nee- 
dle of the gauge steadied on One 
Atmosphere. He opened the air lock 
door, looked inside, making sure. He 
shut the door. 

"Mr. Calver,” said Captain Engels, 
"secure for Interstellar Drive.” He 
made his slow way to the axial shaft. 
Calver began to follow. 

Jane Arlen caught his sleeve. 

"Derek,” she said, "I'm frighten- 
ed. I thought when I came out to the 
Rim I’d shaken off the jinx that’s al- 
ways followed me . . .” 

"It had nothing to do with you,” 
said Calver. "It had nothing to do 
with poor MacLean, even. It was pol- 
itics — politics on a world that none 
of us had ever heard of a few years 
ago.” 

She said, "But I’m still fright- 
ened.” 

There were no incidents on Grol- 
lor. Everybody on that planet, a 
world that had made almost a reli- 
gion of technology, was glad to see 
Lorn Lady. There were no tempta- 
tions on Grollor. The Grollans re- 
garded alcohol as a good cleaning 
fluid and antiseptic, nothing more. 
Although they were humanoid they 
were so grotesque that their women 
could make no appeal even to Pender, 
even if he had by this time — which 
was doubtful — recovered from the 
fright he had suffered on Tharn. 

There were no incidents on Stree. 
The great, lazy lizards stirred from 
their somnolence to make their slow, 
lazy way to the ship where they 
deigned to accept the cargo that Lorn 

TO RUN THE RIM 



Lady had brought them. There was 
reel upon reel of microfilm — books 
on philosophy in the main, but a sur- 
prisingly large number of contempo- 
rary novels. In exchange they offered 
great jewels, intricately cut, and rolls 
of parchment covered with their 
spidery calligraphy. 

"These,” said Engels to Calver, 
"might well hold the ultimate secrets 
of the Universe.” 

It was on Mellise, on the home- 
ward leg of the voyage, that disaster 
struck again. 

Mellise is a watery world, fully 
four fifths of its surface being cover- 
ed by the shallow seas. Mellise, with 
its absence of land masses and, con- 
sequently, of the conditions produc- 
ing steep barometric gradients, 
should not be a stormy world. Nor- 
mally it is not. Normally the only 
winds known are the steady, predict- 
able Trades and Anti-Trades. But 
there is a long, straggling archipelago 
of low islands almost coincident with 
the Equator, and at the changes of 
Equinox conditions obtain, although 
briefly, favorable to the generation of 
hurricanes. 

Mellise is a watery world and, in 
the main, a pleasant one. 

Calver walked slowly along the 
white beach, the sun pleasantly hot 
on his skin, the sand crunching satis- 
fyingly between his toes. Arlen walk- 
ed beside him, her hand in his. 
Neither of them said anything. There 
was no need to. 

Calver glanced inland, looked to 
the blunt, gleaming spire that was the 
stem of Lorn Lady just visible above 

27 




the feathery, purple foliage of the 
trees. He was glad that a breakdown 
of the pumps had caused the delay in 
departure. There had been little lei- 
sure during the discharge — nets and 
cordage and harpoon guns — and little 
during the loading, although the 
great pearls that were their home- 
ward cargo had offered few problems 
in stowage. 

"Somebody coming our way," mur- 
mured Arlen, raising one long, slim 
arm and pointing. 

Calver looked, and saw the small 
dark blob that broke the calm surface 
of the sea. 

They walked to the water’s edge. 

The Mellisan waddled through the 
shallows, his sleek hide gleaming 
in the sunlight. The necklace of 
gaudy shells around his long, sinu- 
ous neck proclaimed him a person of 
some consequence. Calver thought 
that he was the Chief who had super- 
vised the discharge and loading from 
the shore end, but could not be 
sure. 

"Meelongee,” he said, his voice al- 
most like that of a Siamese cat. 

"Meelongee,” replied Arlen. 

The word meant, Calver knew, 
"greetings.” It was about the only 
word of which he did know the 
meaning. 

The native shifted from one web- 
bed foot to the other. He gesticulated 
with his stubby arms. It was impossi- 
ble for Calver to tell what the ex- 
pression on the long-muzzled face 
signified, but he guessed that it was 
grave concern. There seemed to be 
anxiety in the yelping voice. 

28 



Concern showed on Aden's face. 

"Calver," she asked, "when shall 
we be ready for Space?” 

"Another twenty-four hours,” he 
said. 

"That will be too late. Our friend 
here tells me that there will be a big 
blow before tomorrow morning. A 
gale — or a hurricane.” 

"Not a cloud in the sky," said Cal- 
ver, looking upwards. 

"There’s an old saying,” she re- 
marked quietly, "about the calm be- 
fore the storm. Hadn’t we better get 
back and warn the Old Man?" 

"Yes,” he agreed. 

Arlen thanked the native who, 
bowing clumsily, backed into the still 
water, turned suddenly and then was 
gone with hardly a splash. She walk- 
ed with Calver along the rough path 
from the beach to the clearing that 
was dignified by the name of space- 
port. Once she stopped, saying noth- 
ing, and pointed. Calver looked si- 
lently at the little furry mammals, not 
unlike squirrels, that normally lived 
in the trees. Whole colonies of them 
had come down from their arboreal 
homes, were industriously digging 
burrows in the soil. 

Arlen and Calver came into the 
clearing, hurried to the ramp. They 
ran up the spiral staircase from the 
air lock to the control room. The 
mate went directly to the aneroid. It 
had, he remembered, read 1020 milli- 
bars that morning. The 1010 millibar 
noon reading he had ascribed to diur- 
nal range. Since noon it had dropped 
to 930 millibars. He tapped the face 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




of the instrument with his forefinger. 
It dropped still further. . 

He went to the telephone, pressed 
the selector button for the Reaction 
Drive Engine Room. It was Bendix 
who answered, "Yes? What do you 
want?” 

"How long will Renault be on 
those pumps of his?” 

"It’d be a ten-minute job if this 
lousy outfit carried spares,” snapped 
Bendix. "When we have to make 
impellers by hand . . 

"How long will you be?” 

"This time tomorrow.” 

"Not good enough.” To the girl 
he said, "Arlen, wake the Old Man, 
will you? Tell him it’s important.” 
And into the telephone, "Can’t Re- 
nault fake up some sort of jury rig 
to get us into Space? We’ve been 
warned that there’s the father and 
mother of all storms brewing, and 
our own observations confirm the 
warning.” 

Renault came to the other end of 
the line. He said, "We’re doing our 
best, Calver. You know that. The best 
I can promise is tomorrow noon. 
Now leave us alone, will you?” 

Arlen came back into the control 
room, followed by Captain Engels. 

The Old Man, thought Calver, 
looked an old man in fact as well as 
in name. He had always looked old, 
but until recently there had been a 
sort of wiry indestructibility about 
him. That was now gone. 

He walked slowly, a little unsteadi- 
ly, to the aneroid. He studied it for 
a few moments. 

He said, "I have heard about these 



storms, Mr. Calver. I always hoped 
that it would be my good luck never 
to experience one. A surfaced space- 
ship is, perhaps, the most helpless of 
all Man’s creations.” He paused. "I 
am older than you, Mr. Calver, much 
older, but all my spacefaring experi- 
ence has been on the Rim — and, until 
recently, only with the Ultimo, Lorn, 
Thule and Faraway run. Perhaps ...” 

"I’m afraid that this situation is 
outside my experience, sir,” said Cal- 
ver. 

"There’s something I read . . 
said Arlen hesitantly. 

“Yes, Mrs. Arlen?” said Engels. 
"What was it?" 

"It was in a historical novel. It was 
about the early days of space flight, 
the days of the first explorations of 
Mars and Venus ...” 

"Mars and Venus?” 

"Two planets in Earth’s solar sys- 
tem,” said Arlen. "Venus is a world 
very much like this, but closer to its 
primary. Fierce storms are of very 
frequent occurrence. Anyhow, in this 
novel the characters had to set up 
stays — I think that’s the right word 
— to prevent their ship from being 
blown over.” 

"There are the towing lugs for- 
ward,” said Calver thoughtfully. 
"There are the towing wires. We 
have shackles and bottle screws.” 

"And to what do you propose to 
anchor your . . . stays?” asked the 
captain. 

"To the roots of the stoutest trees,” 
replied Calver. 

"It could work,” said the Old 
Man. 



TO RUN THE RIM 



29 




"It will have to work,’’ said Arlen. 

"Shall I go ahead with it, sir?” 
asked Calver. 

Captain Engels tapped the aneroid 
barometer. Its needle fell another few 
millibars. He walked to the nearest 
port and looked out at the sky. All 
the brilliance had gone from the 
westering sun, which now had a 
smudgy appearance. Overhead the 
long mares’ tails had appeared in 
what had been a cloudless sky. Faint- 
ly audible in the control room was a 
distant, sighing rumble, rhythmic and 
ominous. Engels asked, "What is that 
noise?” 

"The surf,” said Calver. "There 
was a flat calm, but the swell's get- 
ting up.” 

"Rig your stays, Mr. Calver,” or- ' 
dered the captain. 

By nightfall the job was done. 
Calver, aided by Arlen, Levine, Pen- 
der and old Doc Malone had broken 
out the towing wires, the shackles 
and the bottle screws from the spare 
gear store. He had shackled the four 
wires to the towing lugs just abaft 
Lorn Lady’s stem. These wires had 
been brought down to the boles of 
convenient, stout trees and had been 
again shackled to the powerful bottle 
screws. They had been set up tight — 
but not too tigflt. Calver was haunted 
by visions of the frail old ship crum- 
pling down upon herself if too much 
weight were put on the stays. 

Sunset had been a dismal, gray 
end to the day, and with it had come 
the wind, fitful at first, uncertain, 
bringing with it occasional vicious 

30 



squalls of rain and hail. The swell 
was heavy now, breaking high on the 
beach. The water had- lost its usual 
phosphorescence and every roaring 
comber was black and ominous. The 
sky was black, and the sea was black, 
and the frequent, dazzling lightning 
brought a deeper darkness after every 
frightening flash. 

Calver, his' last inspection made, 
entered the ship and climbed wearily 
up to Control. His light uniform was 
sweat-soaked and every muscle was 
aching and trembling. He reported to 
Captain Engels, "All secure, sir.” He 
sank gratefully into one of the accel- 
eration chairs. 

"Thank you, Mr. Calver.” The 
Old Man tapped the aneroid. "Still 
falling, still falling,” he murmured. 

"How are the engineers getting 
on?” asked Calver. 

"They are still working. I fear that 
there’s no hope of our getting off be- 
fore the blow hits us.” 

Arlen appeared with a tray upon 
which there was a plate of sand- 
wiches, a can of cold beer. She put it 
on one arm of the chair, disposed 
herself gracefully upon the other. She 
had been working, Calver well knew, 
as hard as any of the men, but had 
still found the time to attend to their 
needs. 

"Thanks, Arlen,” said Calver 
gratefully. He took a satisfying 
draught of the beer, bit deeply into 
one of the sandwiches. 

The rain was heavy now, torren- 
tial, obscuring the weather ports, 
drumming upon the hull like a swarm 
of micro-meteorites. The ship trem- 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




bled as the gusts hit her, trembled 
and groaned. Something crashed into 
j, er — the branch of a tree? the tree 
itself? — and she seemed to sag, to 
sag and recover. Calver looked 
around at the others. Arlen’s face was 
pale, but calm. Levine’s thin features 
had, somehow, assumed an almost 
ludicrous expression of polite inter- 
est. Fat little Pender was terrified, 
and didn’t care who knew it. Old 
Doc Malone looked like a Buddha 
with Neanderthal Man somewhere in 
his ancestry. Captain Engels' eyes 
were the only part of him that seem- 
ed alive, and they were fixed anxious- 
ly on the aneroid with its plunging 
needle. 

"I wish you’d use more mustard 
when you make sandwiches, Arlen,” 
said Calver, his voice deliberately 
casual. 

"Mustard with lamb ?” she de- 
manded scornfully. 

"I like it,” he said. 

"You would,” she replied. 

"Will this wind get any worse?” 
asked Pender anxiously. 

"Probably,” said Calver. 

"Mightn’t we be safer outside?” 

"We might be — if we were am- 
phibians, like the natives. This island 
will be under water when the storm’s 
at its height.” 

"Oh,” said Pender. "Oh.” 

The wind was steady now, but 
stronger than any of the gusts had 
been. Lorn Lady seemed to shift and 
settle. Calver wished that he could 
see out of the ports to inspect his stay 
wires. He got to his feet and, ignor- 
ing Pender’s protests, switched out 

TO RUN THE RIM 



the control room lights, switched on 
the external floods. The ports to lee- 
ward were clear enough, and through 
them Calver could see the two lee 
stays, silvery threads in the darkness, 
hanging in graceful catenaries. It 
must be, he realized, the weather 
stays that had had all the weight, that 
must have stretched. They were still 
tight enough, bar taut, although they 
could not be seen through the stream- 
ing ports to wfndward. Their thrum- 
ming could be felt rather than heard. 
Walking to inspect the inclinometer, 
Calver was not surprised to find that 
the ship was all of three degrees 
from the vertical. 

He tried to dismiss from his mind 
what the consequences would be 
should a stay carry away, should one 
of the tail fins to leeward crumple 
under the strain. By the unsteady 
glare of the lightning he made his 
way back to his chair, sat down again. 

"There’s nothing further that we 
can do,” said Arlen. 

"Not yet,” he said. "But there will 
be.” 

"When?” she asked. "How soon?’’ 

"I don’t know. We just have to 
wait.” 

"Can we have the lights on 
again ?” asked Pender plaintively. 

"Switch them on, then,” said Cal- 
ver. 

It was a little more cheerful with 
normal lighting in the control room. 
The wind and the rain, the thunder 
and the lightning, were still there 
but, somehow, more distant. There 
was a sense of security — of false se- 
curity Calver knew full well. There 

SI 




y/as the sense of security that comes 
from familiar surroundings, no mat- 
ter what hell is raging unchecked 
outside. 

Now and again Calver would get 
up to walk to the aneroid, to stand 
with Captain Engels to stare at the 
instrument. He knew what had to be 
done when the needle stopped fall- 
ing, and hoped that there would be 
enough time for it to be done. He 
thought how ironical it was that the 
spacemen should be confronted with 
a problem that must have been all too 
familiar to the seamen of the long 
dead days of sail on Earth’s seas, how 
fantastic it was that Lorn Lady could 
well be wrecked by the same forces 
that had destroyed many a proud 
windjammer. 

As they waited, the air of the con- 
trol room became heavy with smoke. 
The burning tobacco eased the strain 
on taut nerves, helped to dull the 
apprehensions even of Pender. Arlen 
got up from the arm of Calver’s chair 
and went to make tea, taking some to 
the engineers and Brentano, who 
were still working on the pumps. Doc 
Malone went to his cabin and re- 
turned with a bottle of the raw liquor 
of his own manufacture, insisted on 
tipping a stiff tot into each tea- 
cup. 

Then — "It’s stopped falling!” 
cried Captain Engels in a cracked 
voice. 

"The trough," said Calver. "Sir, 
we must go outside again. There will 
be a shift of wind at any moment and 
when it comes, unless we have taken 

32 



up the slack on the lee stays, we shall 
be caught aback.” 

The Old Man grinned, and it was 
like the grin of a death’s head. "By 
all means, Mr. Calver. Do as you 
see fit. I am afraid that I can be of 
no help to you.” 

"Your place is here, sir,” said Cal- 
ver gently. 

He led the way to the axial shaft, 
clattered down the stairway to the 
air lock. The tools that he had used 
before were still there — the spanners 
and the heavy spikes. With the others 
standing well back, waiting, he open- 
ed the outer air lock door a crack. 
Save for a distant moaning and the 
splashing of water, all was quiet. He 
opened the door to its full extent, 
saw in the light of the floods that the 
sea had covered the island. The ramp 
was gone, as he had expected that it 
would be, but the ladder rungs, part 
of the actual structure of the ship, 
were still there. 

He clambered down the ladder, 
dropped into the water. It was not, to 
his relief, cold and was a little less 
than waist deep. Arlen followed, 
then Levine, then Doc Malone. Pen- 
der stayed in the air lock to pass the 
tools down to them, came down him- 
self with obvious reluctance. 

They splashed clumsily through 
the flood to the trees to which what 
had been the lee stays were anchored. 
It was heavy going; they could not 
see what was underfoot and the float- 
ing debris impeded their progress. 
Once Arlen screamed faintly as she 
blundered into the battered body of 
one of the natives. 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




Calver left Malone, Pender and 
Levine at the nearer of the two slack 
stays, carried on with Arlen to the 
further one. He and the girl worked 
well together, she holding the bar 
that prevented the bottle screw from 
rotating bodily, he turning with his 
spike the threaded sleeve. He realized 
that the other party was having trou- 
ble. He could hear Doc Malone’s pic- 
turesque curses and Pender’s petulant 
whine. 

He gave the sleeve a last half turn, 
grasped the tight wire with his hand 
to test it. It was taut, but not too 
taut. 

"Come on,” he said to Arlen, 
"we’ll give the others a hand. 
They — ” 

The wind tore the words from his 
mouth, threw them into the suddenly 
howling darkness. He caught Arlen 
by the ballooning slack of her shirt, 
felt the fabric rip in his hand. He 
flung himself after her as she stag- 
gered helplessly down wind, caught 
her and held her to him tightly. They 
fell, both of them, and floundered 
helplessly for long seconds under the 
water. Calver regained his footing at 
last, struggled to his feet, dragging 
Arlen with him. He stood there, his 
back to the wind and the torrential 
rain, and looked at the tall, shining 
tower that was the ship. He thought 
that he saw her shudder, begin to 
shift. 

He turned slowly, fighting to re- 
tain his balance, to look at the stays. 
The one that he had tightened was 
still taut, the other still hung in a 
bight. Two figures at the bole of the 

TO RUN THE RIM 




tree — he knew that they would be 
Malone and Levine — were fighting 
yet with the refractory bottle screw. 

Let the stay hold, he thought in- 
tensely. Let the stay hold. 



33 



Before his horrified eyes the tree 
to which it was made fast lifted, was 
pulled up and clear of the water by 
the whiplash of the wire. It looked, 
with its sprawling roots, like some 
huge, octopoid monster at the end of 
a giant’s fishing line. At the other 
end of the wire was Lorn Lady, and 
she was toppling, as she must topple 
with that dreadful pressure suddenly 
all along her side. Over she went, 
and over . . . 

... and checked. 

The second stay, the slack stay, 
miraculously had held. By the bole 
of the tree old Doc Malone raised his 
pudgy arms slowly against the weight 
of the wind, made the thumbs-up 
sign. 

And thumbs-up it is, thought Cal- 
ver, as they struggled back to the 
ship. He was even prepared to be 
charitable to Pender, who had run 
at the first sign of danger. But Pen- 
der’s body they never found. 

Captain Engels' body they found, 
sprawled pitifully in his control 
room. They all knew what must have 
happened, did not need Doc Malone 
to tell them that the old man’s heart 
had stopped when it seemed to him 
that his ship was doomed. 

"Derek, I’m frightened,’’ said 
Jane Arlen when the worst of it was 
over and the wind was no more than 
a moderate gale. "I’m frightened. 
This jinx of mine . . .” 

"We saved the ship,” said Calver. 

"But this was the second thing,” 
she said. "And they always come in 
threes.” 

"Shut up. Calamity Jane!” he 
34 



whispered, closing her mouth in the 
most effective way of all. 

Lorn Lady was pitifully shorthand- 
ed and would be until her return to 
Port Forlorn. Calver was Master and 
Brentano, the electronic radio officer 
— that unassuming Jack of all trades 
— was his mate. Arlen was second 
mate. Levine would have liked to 
have helped out, but he was one of 
those unfortunate people to whom 
machines of any kind are an insoluble 
mystery, to whom the language of 
mathematics is absolute gibberish. 

It was Levine who came into the 
control room where Calver, to give 
Arlen a chance to prepare a meal, 
was standing part of her watch; old 
Doc Malone was, in the opinion of 
all hands, the Universe’s worst cook. 

"Captain,” he said, "we have com- 
pany." 

"Company?” asked Calver. " Fara- 
way Queen’s not due to make the 
Eastern Circuit for another month.” 
"It’s one of the T. G. Clippers, 
said Levine. "Thermopylae. I’ve been 
yarning to her P.R.O. He wanted the 
names of the officers here.” 

"Trans-Galactic? That’s Bendix’s 
old company, isn't it ? Anyhow, what 
in the galaxy is she doing out here?” 
"A Galactic cruise, captain,” said 
Levine, grinning. "See the romantic 
Rim Worlds, Man’s last frontier. 
Breathe the balmy air of Lorn, redo- 
lent of sulfur dioxide and old socks.” 
"And we’re getting paid for being 
out here,” marveled Calver. "What 
world is she visiting first?” 

"None of the inhabited ones. She’s 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




showing her passengers that weird 
planet, Eblis. She’s going to hang off 
it in closed orbit until they’ve had a 
bellyful of spouting volcanoes and 
lava lakes on the viewscreens; then 
she’s making for Lorn.” He stiffened. 
"Hello! Something’s wrong some- 
where.” 

Although no telepath himself, Cal- 
ver felt a thrill of apprehension. 
Psionic radio had always made him 
feel uneasy. He could imagine the 
psionic amplifier, the tissue culture 
from the brain of a living dog, hang- 
ing in its nutrient solution and prob- 
ing the gulfs between the stars with 
its tendrils of thought, sounding an 
alarm in the brain of its master at the 
first hint of some danger impercepti- 
ble to the normal tun of humanity. 

Levine’s face was expressionless, 
his eyes glazed. He picked up the 
stylus from its clip in the desk before 
Calver, began to write in his neat 
script on the scribbling pad. 

S.O.S. S.O.S. Thermopylae, off 
Eblis. Tube linings burned out, fall- 
ing in spiral orbit to planet. Cannot 
use Mannschenn Drive to break free 
from orbit, ship still losing mass due 
to leakage from after compartments. 
Require immediate assistance. S.O.S. 
S.O.S. 

"Tell him,” said Calver, "that 
we’re on our way.’’ He knew that 
Bendix was in his drive room, called 
him there. "Mr. Bendix," he said, "I 
want you to be ready to push the 
Drive as hard as you can without 
throwing us back to last Thursday. 
One of your old ships is in distress 
off Eblis. I’ll give you the word as 

TO RUN THE R1U 



soon as I’ve made the necessary tra- 
jectory adjustments.” He switched to 
the Reaction Drive Engineer’s cabin. 
"Mr. Renault, stand by your rockets 
and gyroscopes. We’re going to the 
assistance of Thermopylae." He 
switched to Public Adress. "Will all 
off-duty personnel report to Control, 
jjlease?” 

Levine was writing on the pad 
again. 

Thermopylae to Lorn Lady. I hear 
you. Hurry, please. Estimated first 
contact with atmosphere in thirty-six 
hours. 

Arlen and Brentano, followed 
closely by old Doc Malone, came into 
Control. Calver pointed to the pad, 
then busied himself setting up the 
Tri-Di chart on large scale. It show- 
ed the ball of light that was the sun 
of Eblis, the far smaller ball that was 
Eblis itself and, just inside the sphere, 
the tiny spark that was Lorn Lady. 
He read off co-ordinates, threw the 
problem to the computer and tried 
not to show his impatience while the 
machine quietly murmured to itself. 
He looked at the figures on the 
screen. 

"Thirty-five hours,” he said. "But 
Bendix should be able to cut that.” 

"And Renault can give her an ex- 
tra boost,” said Brentano. 

"Cut Interstellar Drive,” ordered 
Calver. 

The familiar whine faltered and 
died. Outside the ports the huge lens 
of the Galaxy resolved itself from 
what had been, as poor MacLean had 
once put it, a Klein flask blown by a 
drunken glass blower. There was the 

35 




hum of the big directional gyroscope 
starting up. 

"Doc,” said Calver, "you’d better 
secure for acceleration. And you, 
Arlen. Mr. Levine, is your amplifier 
secure.” 

"All secure," said Levine, snap- 
ping out of' his daze. 

"Then you’d better stay here. Tell 
Thermopylae that we’re hurrying.” 
The directional gyroscope was 
braked to a sudden stop. At Calver’s 
command the rockets burst into roar- 
ing life, building up the acceleration. 
Calver watched his meters and 
gauges carefully. Too high an initial 
speed would be as wasteful of time as 
too low a one. Deceleration still had 
to be carried out. 

"That will do,” he said at last. 
"Cut Reaction Drive, Mr. Brentano.” 
"Cut Reaction Drive, sir.” 
"Resume Interstellar Drive.” 
"Resume Interstellar Drive.” 

Into the mouthpiece of the tele- 
phone Calver said, "It’s up to you, 
Mr. Bendix.” 

Below the two ships hung the 
burning world of Eblis, a glowing 
scarlet affront to the dark. Lorn Lady 
had made the run in less than thirty- 
three hours, Galactic Standard, but 
there was little enough time to spare. 
Thermopylae’s tow lines had been 
broken out and were already shackled 
to the lugs just abaft her needle 
prow, all that remained to be done 
was for her spacesuited personnel to 
leap the gulf between the ships and 
to shackle them to the lugs forward 
of Lorn Lady’s after vanes. 

86 



But this took time, just as it took 
time for Calver, with infinite care and 
patience, to jockey his vessel into the 
best position, to check that none of 
the lines would be cut by his back-1 
blast and then — carefully, carefully — j 
to take the weight. 

Mass, thrust, inertia — all had to 
be juggled. 

Calver juggled them, striving td 
break the big ship out of her suicide 
orbit while Brentano, operating the! 
radar, checked and rechecked thd 
readings that told, with dreadful fi-3 
nality, that even though Lorn Lady 
was doing her best it was not good 
enough. Arlen sat beside Calver^ 
There was nothing that she could do^ 
but he knew that she was there andj 
the knowledge gave him strength. 

It was Arlen who looked at the; 
pressure gauge, who saw that the 
needle was falling fast. She signaled 
to Brentano, who left his radar to 
look at the dial. 

"She’s rotten,” he whispered fierce- 
ly. "She’s opening at the seams, leak- 
ing like a colander.” 

"Spacesuits ?” she asked. 

"Of course. I’ll warn Doc and the 
engineers.” 

Arlen nudged Levine, who was sit- 
ting on the other side of her. She 
said, "Get into your spacesuit.” She 
turned to watch Calver, waited until 
she saw the tense lines of his jaw 
momentarily relax. "Derek! We’re 
losing air, fast. You’ll have to get 
into a suit." 

He glanced at the pressure gauge, 
saw the seriousness of the situation. 
He pondered briefly the advisability 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




of turning the controls over to Bren- 
tano for a minute or so, then dis- 
missed the idea. Brentano was a good 
man, an excellent man, but had no 
experience with ship handling. 

"Derek!” Arlen’s voice was sharp. 
"Your suit!” 

"It will have to wait.” 

That pound or so of extra thrust, 
he thought. Renault’s giving her all 
he's got. But . . . 

"Your suit!” 

He glanced away from the con- 
trols, saw that all the others, except 
Arlen, were already wearing the 
bulky, pressurized garments, the 
transparent helmets. 

"Put yours on," he snapped. 
"That’s an order!” 

Thrust . . . Thrust . . . And for 
lack of thrust the needle peaks of 
the hell world beneath them were 
reaching up through the ruddy, glow- 
ing clouds, reaching up to rip the 
belly of the huge Trans-Galactic Clip- 
per with her fifteen hundred passen- 
gers and three hundred of a crew, to 
rip her belly and to spill her scream- 
ing people into the lava lakes below. 
He should have used his boats, 
thought Calver, Thermopylae’s cap- 
tain should have used his boats and 
put his people into the relative safety 
of a closed orbit around the planet 
while there was time. He would have 
used his boats, either to attempt a tow 
or for lifesaving, if I hadn’t come 
bumbling along in this decrepit old 
tub with my futile promises of assist- 
ance. 

He chanced another sidewise 
glance, saw that Brentano and Levine 

TO BUN THE RIM 



were forcing Arlen into her suit. 

Thrust, he thought. Thrust . . . 
The auxiliary jets . . . But the tow 
lines . . . How long will they last 
in the blast of the auxiliaries? 

Levine, his hand clumsy in the 
thick glove, was writing on the 
pad. 

Thermopylae to Lorn Lady. It was 
a good try, but intend to abandon 
ship before it is too late. 

"Wait,” said Calver. "Tell him — 
Wait!” he shouted,_ hoping that 
Levine would hear him through his 
helmet. 

His hand dropped to the firing 
keys of the auxiliary jets. He felt the 
sudden surge of additional power 
that pressed him down into the pad- 
ding of the chair. Dimly, he saw 
Brentano turn away from the radar, 
his dark face behind the helmet 
transparency one big grin. 

There was a sudden shock, a sharp 
shift of orientation. 

The first of the wires gone, 
thought Calver, but it doesn’t matter 
now. Then he felt, rather than heard, 
the dreadful splintering and grind- 
ing. The air was gone from the con- 
trol room in one explosive gasp and 
he was choking, suffocating. Jane was 
bending over him — Jane, Calamity 
Jane. It’s not your fault, he was try- 
ing to say. Darling, it’s not your 
fault. But his lungs were empty and 
no sound came. 

She got the helmet over his head 
and opened the valve. Calver took a 
deep breath and held it until, aided 
by Arlen and Brentano, he had the 
rest of the suit on. 



37 




When he was sealed in, he asked, 
"What happened?” 

"She broke in two, captain,” said 
Brentano. "After that first wire car- 
ried away. Everybody’s safe, luckily, 
but the ship’s a total loss.” 

"And Thermopylae ?” asked Oli- 
ver. 

"Safe and sound in a closed orbit,” 
Brentano told him. 

Through the control room ports 
they could see the fiery globe that was 
Eblis, the incredibly long, slim shape 
of the Trans-Galactic Clipper. They 
could see, too, the after section of 
Lorn Lady and the busy, spacesuited 
figures working around the stern. Al- 
though the old ship was dead, some 
of her would live on for a while. Her 
cannibalized tube linings would pro- 
vide Thermopylae with the jury rig 
to make Port Forlorn. 

"Derek," said Jane Arlen, her 
voice strange sounding in the helmet 
phones, "I always bring bad luck 
with me, wherever I go. Perhaps 
you’ll believe me now.” 

"Rubbish," he replied. "Lorn Lady 
was due for the breakers years ago. 
And by the time that the lawyers 
have finished arguing, Rim Runners 
will be getting a fine jiew ship out 
of the deal and — who knows? — I 
may be master of her.” 

She said, ignoring his optimism, 
"I hate to leave her. The poor old 
Lorn Lady . . 

"We must go,” he said gently. 
"They are waiting for us aboard 
Thermopylae." 

Together they left the old, broken 
38 



ship. Together, using their suit reac- 
tion units, they jetted across the emp- 
tiness to the big liner, to the circle 
of light that was the air lock door. In 
the little compartment they divested 
themselves of their spacesuits, felt 
pride in rather than embarrassment 
for the shabby uniforms so revealed. 
They stepped through the inner door, 
-the magnetic soles of their shoes si- 
lent on the carpeted deck. Steel lay 
beneath it but, as they had known 
when they, themselves, had served in 
vessels of this class, passengers must 
be shielded from the harsh realities 
of Space. 

The young officer waiting to re- 
ceive them saluted smartly. 

"Glad to have you aboard, Cap- 
tain Calver,” he said. "May I take 
you to Captain Hendriks?” 

"Thank you,” said Calver. 

They followed their guide along 
alleyways, through public rooms. Pas- 
sengers stared curiously at the man 
who had lost his ship to save their 
lives. Calver was thankful when they 
entered the comparative privacy of 
the big ship’s axial shaft. Hand over 
hand, he and Arlen pulled themselves 
swiftly along the guide rail behind 
the Thermopylae’s officer. 

The captain of the liner — an old 
man, a man who had aged years in 
the last few hours — was seated be- 
hind his big desk. He snapped open 
his seat belt as they entered his day 
cabin, advanced to meet them. 

He said, "Captain Calver, my 
thanks are inadequate.” 

"I did what I could, captain,” said 
Calver. 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




"At least,” said Hendriks, "I shall the other captain., "But you’ll be able 
Jo what I can, too. Sometimes, in to return now, to the warmth and the 
wrangles over salvage money, the light of the Center." 
owners of the ships involved are re- "So we shall," said Calver, with a 
membered and their crews, who have mild amazement. "So we shall." His 
done all the work, are forgotten. But hand found Jane Aden's, closed up- 
I am not without influence — ” on it, felt the answering warmth and 

"That aspect of the matter had pressure. "But I belong on the Rim," 
never occurred to me," said Calver. he said. "We belong on the 
"You must hate it out here," said Rim.” 

' THE END 



IN TIMES TO COME 

The February issue coming up has at least three things scheduled that are 
worth looking for: 1. One of Kelly Freas’ best covers. Which, of course/ 
means it’s good; he’s been winning the annual Science Fiction Art Awards 
with great regularity. It illustrates — or typifies — the new -Murray Leinster 
novel, "The Pirates of Ersatz,” which is Item #2, and contains the most 
lovely, logical argument that the Galactic Economy can be healthy only when 
there are efficient pirates at work that anyone ever dreamed up. It’s so good 
it sounds honest. 

The third item of note is a new Leonard Lockhart article entitled, "That 
Professional Touch,” which further explores — or deplores, depending on 
how you look at it — the status of Patent Law. 

You’ll have fun with all three. 

The Editor. 



TO RUN THE RIM 



39 




BY 

NEW 

HEARTH 

FIRES 




at the feet of demigods. What of 



them when the half -gods go...? 



Illustrated by Martinez 

4G 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




'-‘IttH i S 1 HE last dog on Earth 

= was dying. It was a 

II small, but important, 

II crisis. None other of 

— 1 his kind was known to 

still exist on any of the other worlds. 
It was quite probable that there were 
no others and that with him the race 
would end. Nothing seemed to be 



wrong with this dog named Alpha. 
He was still young and in no way 
hurt or diseased. But still he was 
dying. 

The curator of the museum world 
that was Earth at this time was quite 



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BY NEW HEARTH FIRES 



41 



concerned about the situation. He 
had done everything he could with 
the large, brown and white canine, 
utilized every device and therapy 
available at the hospital center in the 
Adirondack mountains. But the dog, 
unlike all the other sick animals 
brought in from the various parks and 
exhibit areas of the Earth, responded 
to none of his efforts. It was not the 
curator’s fault, of course. But still 
he felt the matter as a sort of failure 
— that the race of dogs, important as 
it had been to the past history of 
man, should terminate during his 
term of office. 

He coded a request to the Galactic 
Center for the person most likely to 
be of help to him in this situation; 
and a few weeks later a well-known 
historical psychologist, named Dr. 
Anius arrived on Earth, accompanied 
by his son, a bright twelve-year old 
named Geni. The curator was on 
hand to meet them as they stepped 
off the transportation platform at the 
edge of the hospital area. 

"Dr. Laee?” said Anius, descend- 
ing from the platform and offering 
his hand. He was a tall, brown-haired 
man in his first hundred years, and 
his handgrip was firm. "I brought my 
boy along to give him this chance to 
look- over the home world. He won’t 
be in the way. Geni, this is the 
Curator, here, Dr. Laee.” 

Laee shook hands also with the 
boy, a slim lad well over two meters 
in height and showing signs of being 
another lean, tall individual like his 
father. Laee, originally from the far 
side of the galaxy, was from a rather 

42 



shorter ancestral strain, than these 
Center people, but age had put him 
past the point of noticing that dif- 
ference. 

"Come along into the hospital,” 
he said. 

They strolled up the narrow, resili- 
ent walk through the hospital area. 
The grassy grounds were occupied by 
a number of different animals, ar- 
ranged by species, that were currently 
at the hospital and undergoing treat- 
ment. The boy stared in fascination 
at a whooping crane which was turn- 
ing around and around in an attempt 
to get a better look at one of its 
wings, which had been set for a 
break, and bound in staSis. 

"I had no idea there were so many 
I wouldn’t know,” he said to the 
curator. 

"The original Earth was very rich 
in varieties,” replied the curator. 
"One way or another, we have speci- 
mens of nearly all, though in many 
cases we had to breed back for ex- 
tinct forms.” 

"How do you keep them separate?” 
asked Geni, his gray eyes ranging 
over the apparently open grounds. 

"Tingle barriers separate the 
groups into small areas,” answered 
Laee. "Remind me to give you a key, 
when you want to examine the ani- 
mals more closely.” 

They reached the entrance to the 
curator’s quarters after seeing a buffalo 
who had just had his horn amputat- 
ed, a Kodiak bear with an infected 
ear, and a large gorilla with a skin 
rash allergy who sat back in the 
shadows of his little groves of bushes 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




and watched their passing with sad, 
intelligent eyes. 

"I assume,” said the tall Dr. Anius, 
as they passed into the main lounge of 
the curator’s area, "you could also 
rebreed the domestic dog from one 
of your other canine forms if we’re 
completely unsuccessful in saving 
this specimen?” 

”Oh, of course,” said Laee. "But 
naturally, I like to know what his 
affliction is, so we can stop it if it 
ever props up again. And then,” he 
paused, turning his eyes on Anius, 
"it would be nice to maintain the 
original line.” 

They went on into a farther room 
that was half library, half patio. The 
bright afternoon spring sun came in 
through the invisible ceiling and 
struck warmly upon the patches of 
grass and flowers. On the white flag- 
stone a furry body lay outstretched, 
eyes closed and clean limbs stretched 
out and still, with only the slow 
rise and fall of the narrow chest to 
indicate life. 

“Is that him?” asked the boy. 

"That’s him,” said the curator. 
They all three came up and stood 
over the dog who lifted his eyelids 
to look at them, then closed the lids 
again, without stirring. 

“Is he helpless?” asked Anius. 

"No . . . not helpless,” said the 
curator. “He’s weak, mainly from 
not eating anything to speak of these 
last few weeks. But he’s got energy 
enough to move around when he 
wants to. Alpha!” he said, sharply. 
"Alpha!” 

The dog opened his eyes again. 



and half-lifted his head. He moved 
his tail, briefly, and then — as if it 
were too much of an effort, lay back 
again. His eyes, however, remained 
open, watching them. The boy, Geni, 
stared at those eyes in an odd sort of 
fascination. They were as brown and 
liquid as a human's, but they had 
something different — he thought of it 
as a clearness or transparency — that 
he had never noticed before in eyes 
of any kind. 

"If you two don’t mind stepping 
out,” said his father, "I’d like to 
examine him with no one else around 
to distract him.” 

The boy and the curator went out 
together. 

"As long as we have to wait,” 
said the curator, "how’d you like 
to look around the planet a bit?" 

"I’d enjoy that,” said Geni. "If 
it’s not too much trouble — ” 

"No trouble at all,” said the cura- 
tor. He led the way to a small plat- 
form, sitting by the fireplace in the 
main lounge; and they both got on. 
“This job’s something of a sinecure, 
generally.” 

He set the controls that took them 
directly to a spot a little ways out 
from the world where they could 
see the North American Continent 
as a whole; and, pointing out various 
features of historic interest, moved 
on around the globe. 

"... There are capsules of detail 
on this information back in my li- 
brary,” Laee said, between para- 
graphs of his talk. "You can pick 
them out later, if you want This 



BY NEW HEARTH FIRES 



43 




world, of course, is too crammed 
with history for me to be able to do 
justice to it on a quick sweep like 
this, but it’s my belief that immedi- 
acy is a great virtue. You may get 
more of the feel of it from this sort 
of presentation.” 

"I’m overwhelmed,” said the boy. 
"I am.” 

"Ah, then, you’re a responsive,” 
said Laee. "So. few are. Many of the 
visitors here make a valiant effort — I 
see them at it — but for all their 
trouble they achieve no emotional 
response. And I think they go away 
thinking that it’s all a rather unnec- 
essary expense.” 

They descended at random and 
landed on Salisbury plain, in Eng- 
land, within the toothed circle of a 
reconstructed Stonehenge. The mid- 
afternoon July sun struck warmly be- 
tween the upright blocks as it had 
for thousands of years, but the heavy 
shadows were cold. 

They boy shivered suddenly, look- 
ing about him, 

"They were different, weren’t 
they?” he said. 

"Anthropologists deny it,” said 
Laee, "that we have changed. But I 
know what you feel. I feel it myself, 
sometimes — and particularly on this 
world.” 

"Should we go?”. asked Geni. 

They went on, to see the Louvre 
and the Forum, and the Taj Mahal 
and the Angkor Thom and Angkor 
Vat — and so by way of the Christ of 
the Andes back to the hospital. 

Anius was sitting in the main 
lounge when they came in, the dog 

44 



Alpha not far from him, lying 
stretched out on the rosy tile of the 
floor with the brown fur of his back 
turned to the fireplace, as if in dis- 
dain at its illusion of a blaze. 

"Been seeing the Earth, have you?” 
he said, smiling up at them as they 
approached. 

"We hit some of the high spots,” 
replied the curator, as he and the boy 
sat down. "Have you discovered any- 
thing about the dog?” 

Anius shook his head slowly and' 
looked over at Alpha. 

"He’s dying because he has no 
will to live,” he answered. "But you 
know that already. These creatures 
are strange.” He stared at the dog, 
who returned the gaze without stir- 
ring. "Their psychology is baffling.” 
"But I thought” said the curator, 
who had turned to the table beside 
him and was coding for a meal to 
be served the three of them, "animal 
psychology was at least as well under- 
stood as the human.” - 

"Oh yes, most of them,” said 
Anius. "The monkey, and ape family 
now — ” he smiled suddenly across 
his lean face, "how we know that 
bunch ! And the wild strains, and the 
herd animals. But the dog — and to 
a lesser extent, the cat, and the 
horse. All of those that had some 
peculiar partnership in man’s history. 
These, we do not understand.” A cart 
came gliding into the room with the 
meal upon it and stopped between 
them. Anius reached out for a tum- 
bler of clear liquid. "Perhaps that’s 
why — they were too close.” 

"You mean it would be like under- 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




standing ourselves?" said Laee. But 
we do, don t we? 

"In everything that’s pin-downable, 
we do," said Anius. "But there’s 
more than that, or each one of us 
wouldn’t be an individual, in his 
own right.” 

"Father,” said the boy, "what were 
they like — the ones who built Stone- 
henge?” 

Anius laughed and set his glass 
down. 

“You see there?" he said to the 
curator. "I can’t answer that.” He 
turned to his son. "The original 
Stonehenge, you mean ? I can tell you 
what they looked and talked like — 
and even something of what they 
thought. But what they felt — ” 

"That’s what I mean,” said the 
boy, eagerly. 

His father spread his hands help- 
lessly. 

"The science of emotions is no 
science,” he said. "It’s an art. Which 
was why Art developed automatically 
to express it. Look at what ancient 
man has done — and you’re as close 
to him as I can come with all I 
know.” 

"Yes,” said the curator, musingly, 
over a biscuit, held in one hand. "I 
understand that, I think." 

"But — ” began the boy. 

"It’s not natural for men to be 
martyrs and heroes and tyrants,” his 
father continued, as if he had not 
heard. "But they had them. We can 
attempt to explain the bad in men of 
those times by saying these were 
warped personalities. But how do you 



explain the good — I mean the better 
than normal — ” he interrupted him- 
self, looking at the curator. 

"A code of ethics — " said the 
curator. 

"Does not completely explain it,” 
said Anius. "There was a very good 
paper written several hundred years 
back by somebody whose name slips 
my mind at this moment,” he frown- 
ed for a second over the effort of 
remembering, then gave it up, 
"which attempted to prove that an 
ethical existence is the most practical 
one for any intelligent species as a 
species, from the time that they first 
begin to show intelligence. But there 
were flaws in his argument — there 
were flaws — ” 

He fell silent; and the boy and 
the curator were both just opening 
their mouths to speak, thinking he 
was through, when he looked up and 
addressed Laee, directly. 

“I believe you told me Alpha, here, 
started his decline from the time he 
was left alone in the world, so to 
speak.” 

"Well, yes," said the curator. "But 
his symptoms are unique in that. I 
mean ... we used to have quite a 
number of these dogs.” 

"In a separate area?” 

"Yes. We had something like a 
farm, or a country place, covering 
several square miles. There was a 
building, circa 1880s, old reckoning, 
a barn, some farm animals.” 

"And some robots in human form, 
I suppose," said Anius. 

"That’s right. But they weren’t put 
there for the dogs’ benefit," said the 



BY NEW HEARTH FIRES 



45 




curator. "They were just part of the 
exhibit — as the dogs themselves were, 
originally.” 

"And then they started to die off? 
I mean, the dogs, of course,” said 
Anius. 

"The group began to dwindle. 
Smaller litters were born; and the 
puppies did all right during their 
growing period, but began to give up, 
like Alpha, here, and die shortly 
after maturity. Alpha was one of a 
litter of two. His sister was born 
dead, and he and his mother were 
the last two of the species. When 
she died — ” 

"He began to go this way?” 

The curator nodded. 

"I see,” said Anius, thoughtfully, 
nodding at the glass in his hand. "I 
see — ” 

"Father,” said Geni, the fresh, 
tight diin of his brow stretching in 
a frown, "about these men who did 
build Stonehenge — ” 

In the following days Dr. Anius 
gave himself over wholly to the ob- 
servation and care of the dog. To the 
curator watching, it all seemed a lit- 
tle marvelous; and he himself felt a 
touch of humbleness at the thought 
of having harnessed so much intelli- 
gence and erudition, as it were, to 
such a small and common problem. 
For a few days Alpha actually seem- 
ed to revive under this attention. He 
occasionally followed Anius around, 
and even consented to eat several 
times. But shortly after that it could 
be seen that he was sinking back 
into his apathy again. 

46 



"Perhaps," Laee suggested, offering 
the ready-made excuse like a polite 
host, "it was impossible to begin 
with. You’ve been very generous 
with your time.” 

"When there’s life, there’s hope, 
as that hoary saying goes," objected 
Anius. They were sitting in the same 
library-patio with Alpha stretched out 
at their feet and apparently dozing. 
"And the challenge is . . . well, a 
challenge.” He smiled at the curator. 
"It wouldn’t take much imagination 
to pretend that there’s some old mag-: 
ic still at work on this world of 
yours. You’ve noticed Geni?” 

"He’s very interested in the local! 
past,” said Laee. i 

"He’s head over heels interested 
in the local past," said Anius. "But I 
suppose it’s natural at his age.” 

"That reminds me,” said Laee, al- 
most a trifle shyly, "he’s dropping 
by in a few minutes. He wants to ask 
you something.” 

Anius raised his head and looked 
closely at the curator. 

"It must be something he suspects 
I won’t approve of,” he said dryly, 
"if he has to send advance warning 
through you, this way.” 

"I don’t know what he has in 
mind,” said Laee, quickly. And 
changed the subject. 

Some ten minutes later, Geni came 
into the patio and sat down. His 
father stared at him. The boy was 
dressed in an odd, archaic costume 
consisting of boots, slacks and jacket. 

"I see,” said Anius. "You want to 
play-act some historical role or other ? 
That’s your plan.” 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




A 












'Well, yes,” said Geni. He shifted, 



a little uncomfortably on his chair. 



He had been very sure of himself. 



but now the words would not come 
for his argument. He had been out, 
roaming the face of the Earth by him 
self; and he had seen the fresh, clean 
earth bla 

spring and smelled the many odors 
of the open wind. Something in all 
this had moved him; but he found 
that now facins his father, he had 






... a little like they used to. And I’d 
like to take the dog along. It might 
work for him." 

"Fantasy!” said his father, "You 
realize, you can’t go back?” 

’’Oh. I know that,” said Geni 
quickly. "It’d be play-acting,, as you 
say. But there’s something there I’d 
like to touch.” 

"The past is the past,” said his 
father. "There’s a certain emotional 
danger in entertaining the notion that 
it might be otherwise. Everyone who 
works in the field of history has to 
realize that. It’s like studying some- 
thing attractive through a glass which 
can’t be broken. You risk frustra- 
tion.” 

"It would be good for the dog,” 
said the boy. "He’s not improving, is 
he? If I took him out and exposed 
him to notiiing but the kind of en- 
vironment his kind flourished in, 
then maybe — ” he let the sentence 
hang, watching his father. 

"I’m not sure I approve of that, 
either,” said Anius, slowly. "It’s 
rather on the order of tinkering at 
random with a mechanical device 
whose principle of operation you do 
not understand. By accident you may 
cure its malfunction, but there’s an 
equal or greater chance you may dam- 
age it further.” 

"Alpha’s dying,” said the boy. 
"And you aren’t saving him. No- 
body’s saving him. I could try my 
experiment without him, but I’d 
rather have him, and .it wouldn’t 
hurt to try.” 

"What do you think?” asked Ani- 
us, turning to the curator. 

48 



'Tve been bitten by Geni’s bug, 
many years now.” Laee rubbed his 
short-fingered hands together and 
smiled wryly. "And I’ve never got 
over it. Call me devil’s advocate, if 
you wish. But it might help the dog, 
at that.” 

"Has anything like it ever been 
tried before?” asked Anius. 

Laee shook his head. 

"Not as far as the records show,” 
he said. "Give the two of them a 
week or so, why don’t you? At the 
end of that time we should be able 
to tell about Alpha, one way or an- 
other. Of course, I realize it would 
leave you at loose ends — but now 
that you’re here on Earth, perhaps 
there’s material here in our files or 
otherwise you may have wanted to 
examine ... a week’s worth of it, 
anyway.” 

"Much more than that. I’d planned 
to stay over anyway — ” Anius waved 
his hand, dismissing that element of 
the problem. "It’s just that I feel a 
certain professional responsibility to- 
ward the dog, now . . . well, go 
ahead, if you want to,” he wound 
up, turning to Geni. 

The boy’s face lit up. 

Early the next morning, they left 
the clinic, Geni and Alpha. The dog, 
like all the other animals there, had 
been restrained by the invisible tingle 
barriers from straying into areas 
where he was not wanted to go; and, 
in spite of the fact that now he, like 
Geni, wore a key that cut out a bar- 
rier as soon as he touched it, he had 
to be urged to strike out across the 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




grounds, and cringed slightly as he 
followed the boy at the end of a 

leash. ^ . i 

"You won’t stray off the grounds? 

Anius said to Geni, as they left. 

"Not if you don’t want us to, 
Father,” said the boy, looking up at 
the man with an expression of slight 
puzzlement. "It really doesn’t matter 
where we go, as long as we stay out 
of the clinic itself.” 

"Fine,” said Anius. "Because I’d 
like to check on the dog from time 
to time by local scan.” 

"All right, Father.” 

They turned and went, walking 
away through the areas of the sick 
and injured animals. Alpha’s head 
glancing to right and left at the wild 
creatures with a wariness, but Geni 
moving with the unconscious uncon- 
cern of a being who knew his sci- 
ence. 

Anius and Laee watched them go. 
The dog, Alpha, trotting at the end 
of his leash, shied from the Kodiak 
with the infected ear, and sniffed 
curiously, a second later, at the go- 
rilla with the allergy rash. They 
moved on, dwindling, and passing at 
length from sight among a small 
grove of pines. 

"And now,” said Anius, turning 
to the curator, "I’ll start my poking 
through your files.” 

The files, indeed, turned out to be 
even far more interesting to an his- 
torical psychologist than Anius had 
expected. They consisted of nothing 
more — and nothing less — than a 
great mass of statistics and informa- 



tion about all periods of human 
history on Earth. Taken item by 
item, they were as dry as old news- 
print; but investigating them was 
like looking up an item in an en- 
cyclopedia, where each page turned 
over sowed fishhooks for the atten- 
tion, in the shape of odd and hitherto 
unknown avenues of knowledge. 
Anius felt caught, as he had not been 
caught in decades, by a lust that drew 
him down these obscure paths and 
into the wilderness of civilizations 
long dead and put to rest. The mirage 
of something not fully understood 
fled always just a little ways ahead 
of him, and the more he overtook it 
in his absorption of facts from the 
past, the more it drew away from 
him, and drew him on; until in the 
end he pursued it headlong, without 
attempting analysis or self-under- 
standing, like a man in love. 

In this occupation he suddenly 
lost himself; and several days went 
by as if the time they represented 
had unexpectedly evaporated. He 
was startled to find Laee at his el- 
bow, one afternoon. 

"Eh?” he said, looking up from 
the screen before him. "What’s 
that?" 

"You said you wanted to check on 
Alpha’s condition from time to 
time,” Laee was standing close, with 
his round face bent a little curiously 
over him. "You haven’t made any 
attempt — and I just now hap- 
pened to pick up Geni and the 
dog on a routine check of the 
grounds.” 

"Oh . . . oh yes,” said Anius, get- 

49 



BY NEW HEARTH FIRES 




ting to his feet. "Where’s your scan 
board?” 

"Through here.” 

Laee led him into a little side 
room. They looked over a small or- 
namental railing into a little area of 
imaged outdoors, solid enough ap- 
pearing in its three dimensions to be 
an actuality. Anius saw his son, still 
in the archaic jacket and boots, seat- 
ed cross-legged before an actual wood 
fire, burning on the grass of an- open 
space surrounded by pine and birch. 
On the other side of the fire, Alpha 
lay on his belly, nose between his 
paws. His eyes were open, but they 
were not on Geni. They were gazing 
instead into the almost invisible 
flames of the fire. 

Seeing them there, Anius felt a 
sudden entirely irrational and new 
twinge, of panic, as if he were watch- 
ing his son out of reach and drown- 
ing in some strange waters’. 

"Geni!” he called. 

"Just a minute — " said Laee. The 
boy had not looked up. The curator 
adjusted a control and nodded at 
Anius. 

"Geni!” he said again, loudly. 

The boy looked up. The dog’s ears 
flicked and stirred, but he did not 
move. Geni looked over to one side 
as if he could actually see them, but 
the gaze of his image went past the 
two men in the room, the way the 
gaze of a blind mari does. 

"Father?” he said. 

"It’s all right," said Anius more 
calmly. "I just didn’t realize the 
sound element wasn’t on.” He took 
a breath and went on more calmly. 

60 ' 



"Alpha looks good. How’ve yoh 
been doing?’’ 

"I don’t know. I think he’s better,’" 
said the boy. "We’ve been moving] 
around the grounds a lot. He’s pretty; 
interested in the other animals. He 
perked up the first day — and he’^ 
been eating pretty well until just to--j 
day.” i 

"Something happened today ?’*j 
asked the curator. _ j 

"No,” said Geni, shifting his gaze; 
at the other voice, but still looking, 
past them. "But when I stopped and! 
built the fire here for our midday 
meal, he didn't seem hungry. And, 
he doesn’t seem to want to follow me 
away from the fire.” 

"If he shows any obvious signs of 
physical illness, let me know,” said, 
Laee. 

"I will,” answered Geni. "Father?” 
"Yes, Geni?” said Anius. 

"Are you keeping occupied all 
right?” 

Anius smiled. 

"Yes,” he said. "I’m quite busy oii 
some files here. Geni — how far from 
the clinic are you?” ' 

"About ten kilometers, I imagine,” 
said Geni. "Why?” 

"I just wondered. Keep in touch 
with us, son.” 

"I will.” 

"Good-by.” 

"Good-by, Father.” 

"Good-by,” said Laee. 

"Good-by.” 

Laee touched a control and the 
scene vanished, leaving a small area 
of bare, bright yellow floor enclosed 
by the little railing. 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




'Tve a little more scanning to do,” 
said Laee, looking up at his tall 
guest. "I won’t keep you from your 
own work. 

"Oh, yes . . . yes,” said Anius, 
starting a little. He lifted his hand 
in a friendly gesture and went out 
the door of die scan room. But he did 
not go back to the files. Deep in 
thought, he wandered through the 
living quarters of the clinic and out 
onto the grounds. The afternoon was 
reddening into its later hours just 
before sunset and the long shadows 
lay across his path. Again he felt the 
whisper of something like a panic, 
but it sank and mellowed into a sad- 
ness, a feeling of regret no deeper 
than the transience of the passing 
day. He found himself standing by 
the area where the gorilla sat and 
he looked across the distance of a few 
short meters into its wrinkle-hooded 
eyes. And the gorilla looked back 
with a wondering unhappiness that 
had no language to explain itself, 
its great and hairy arms crossed on 
its knees. 

"What do you know?” Anius ask- 
ed it. "What do you know?” 

And the gorilla blinked and turned 
its head shyly and painfully away. 

Anius sighed and turned back 
toward the clinic, and the files. 

”1 hesitate to mention this,” said 
Laee, over lunch two days later, "but 
have you run across something in the 
files that 'disturbs you? It’s not my 
intention to pry; but as curator 
here — ” 

"Of course,” said Anius. He put 
by new hearth fires 



down the glass he was holding and 
shook his head. "There’s nothing, ex- 
cept — ” he hesitated. "There is 
. nothjng, that’s just it.” 

"I’m afraid — ” began Laee. 

"I know, I’m not being clear,” 
Anius waved a hand in apology. "It’s 
not the files. It’s this whole world of 
yours . . . I’m half prepared to be- 
lieve it’s haunted. It puts questions 
into my mind.” 

"For example,” said Laee, en- 
couragingly. 

"Do you suppose,” said Anius, 
very slowly, "that something could 
be lost, without its loss being 
known?” 

"Lost from the files?” 

"No,” said Anius. "Lost to us, by 
us, as a people, without our knowing 
it. Do you suppose it would be pos- 
sible for us to have taken a turning, 
somewhere along the way — a turning 
that was maybe right, and maybe 
wrong — but a turning that put us 
past the hope of going back to, find 
our original path?” 

Laee spread his hands and smiled, 
with a little shrug. 

"No!” said Anius, forcefully. "I 
mean it, as a serious question.” Laee 
frowned at him. 

"In that case — ” he said, and 
paused. "No, I still don’t understand 
you.” 

"There was an old legend on this 
world, once,” said Anius, "about the 
elephants’ graveyards.” 

"I know it,” Laee nodded. 

"Because the remains of dead ele- 
phants were not found, because of 
. the value of ivory if great boneyards 

51 




existed, a theory of a dramatic end 
for elephants was invented. Only the 
truth was that the scavengers, small 
and large, in the jungle disposed of 
all remains. The true end was not 
remarkable, not impressive, but 
natural and a little' dull. Gradually, 
the dead elephant disappeared. As if 
— ” Anius hesitated, "he had never 
been.” 

"Come now,” said Laee smiling, 
"the human race is a long ways from 
the end of its existence — if, indeed, 
it's going to end at all.” 

"I think,” said Anius, with a 
slight shiver, "all things end.” 

A sudden mellow note, like the 
sound of a gong, echoed through 
the clinic. Both men looked up, 
startled; and Laee, frowning in sur- 
prise, reached over and pressed a 
stud on the table by his chair. A 
bright little shimmer sprang into 
existence ini front of the imitation 
fire on the hearth of the lounge and 
resolved itself into the face of Geni, 
looking up at them. 

"What is it, Son?” asked Anius, 
for the boy's face was strained. 

"I’m sorry, Father,” said Geni. 
"But I’ve lost Alpha. I thought I 
could find him by myself and not 
bother you. But I can’t.” 

"Tell us what happened,” said 
Laee, leaning forward. 

"He ran off yesterday, during the 
night, I guess,” said Geni. "He was 
gone in the morning. I hunted for 
him yesterday, and found some 
tracks this morning crossing a couple 
of tingle barriers. No other animal 
could do that — Alpha’s the only one 

62 



carrying a key — ’’ the boy broke off. 
"I think ... I think the gorilla got 
him. You know . . . the one just a 
little ways from the clinic. I’m at the 
gorilla’s area, now. But I don’t have 
anything protective with me. I don't 
dare go in.” 

"We’ll be right there,” said the 
curator, getting to his feet. 

"Wait where you are, Geni,” said 
Anius, also rising. 

"All right, Father. I’m sorry,” said 
the boy. He broke the connection. 

Laee got a paralyzer from his 
stores and the two men set out on 
foot toward the area where the gorilla 
was enclosed. It was just a couple of 
minutes walk from the clinic; and as 
they rounded a little clump of lilac 
bifshes, they saw Geni standing un- 
happily at the edge of the area, and 
the gorilla itself squatting in front 
of the little grove of bushes that had 
been designed to give it the privacy 
the powerful but shy anthropoid de- 
sired. 

Geni turned to look at them as 
the two men approached together, 
Laee carrying the paralyzer with a 
practiced and competent grip. 

"I’m sure he’s back in there,” Geni 
said, as they came up. "I can’t quite 
see him now, but I saw him before.” 

"Let me call him,” said Laee. He 
stepped up to the edge of the tingle 
barrier and raised his voice. "Alpha!” 
He waited a second, and then called 
again. "Alpha!” 

There was no immediate response 
from the shadows of the bushes, but 
the gorilla, his attention suddenly di- 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




rected to Laee, all at once recognized 
the paralyzer in the curator's hand 
and threw up one thick clumsy arm 
t*?fore his face, shrinking back and 
away. 

Immediately, there was movement 
in the bushes and the dog came out. 
Pushing in front of the huddled go- 
rilla, he stood squarely, facing the 
men. 

''There he is,” said Laee, raising 
the paralyzer. The gorilla whimpered. 
Alpha snarled suddenly, and Anius 
caught at the curator’s arm. 

''No!” he said. "Don’t.” 

Laee turned and stared at him. The 
boy cried out. 

"But he’s got Alpha!” 

"Come along,” said Anius, putting 



a hand on both of them. "Leave 
them.” 

Slowly, the curator lowered the 
paralyzer. He was frowning at Anius. 
Then his frown cleared and he slow- 
ly nodded. 

"But,” cried the boy again, "he’s 
got Alpha. He’s got our dog." 

Anius put his long arm around 
his son’s shoulders and turned him 
about. And the three of them walked 
away, toward the silver dome of the 
clinic, which from where they were 
seemed to shimmer in the noon sun 
like a bright bubble, earth- tethered 
there for only a little time and 
against its will. 

"No, Son,” he said, gently. "Not 
our dog. He’s not our dog any more." 



THE END 



THE ANALYTICAL LABORATORY 

From this month’s reader votes, it appears that you like Big stories. At any 
rate "The Big Front Yard” and "Big Sword” won first and second places in 
the poll. 

It’s been some time since I explained the An Lab setup, and some newer 
readers may want the data: Reader letters are tabulated, and their votes for 
first, second, third, et cetera, places noted on a score sheet. A vote for first 
place counts 1; for second place 2, et cetera. And as in golf, the author with 
the lowest score wins. The votes for each story are totaled, and divided by 
the number voting on that story— not all readers vote on all stories — to yield 
the "point score.” The point score determines the place of the story. 

And here is why our authors follow the results of that voting of yours 
with such keen and sincere interest: the story you vote into first place gets a 
1 ^ a word bonus, while the second-place story gets paid an additional 
y 2 4 per word. In other words, if you like the job an author did in entertain- 
ing you — praise him for it! It’s money in his pocket; he’ll really appreciate 
your words! 

(Continued on page 82) 



BY NEW HEARTH FIRES 



63 




.BARN 

BY FOUL ANDERSON 



The shortest way may not be the quickest — or even a 
possible — way to the goal. And, on occasion, the way to 
get where you’re going is to push hard the other way. 



VOBODA was about 
sixty years old. He did 
not know his exact age. 
The Lowlevel seldom 
counted such things, 
and his earliest memory was of weep- 
ing in an alley while rain fell past an 
overhead beltway that roared. After- 
ward his mother died and someone, 
who claimed to be his father, but 
probably wasn’t, sold him to Inky the 
thiefmaster. 

Sixty was ancient for a man of the 
masses, whether he slunk cat-fashion 
through soot and noise and sudden 
death in a city Lowlevel or— more 
healthfully if with less freedom — 
squirmed along a mine shaft or tend- 
ed engine on a plankton reaper. For 
an upperlevel Citizen, or a Guardian, 
sixty was only middle-aged. Svoboda, 
who had spent half his life in either 



category, looked as old as Satan but 
could hope for another two decades. 

If you wanted to call it hope, he 
thought wryly. 

His left foot was paining him 
again. It was a lump within the spe- 
cial shoe. When he was twelve or so, 
scrambling over a garden wall with 
a silver chalice contributed by one 
Engineer Harkavy, an explosive slug 
from a guard’s pistol had smashed 
all the bones. He got away somehow, 
but it was a cruel thing to happen to 
one of the most agile and promising 
lads in the Brotherhood. Inky reap- 
prenticed him to a fence, which 
forced him to learn reading and writ- 
ing and thus started him on a long 
road up. Twenty-five years afterward, 
when Svoboda was Commissioner of 
Astronautics, a medic recommended 
prosthetizing the broken foot. 




ROBIN HOOD’S BARN 



65 





"I can make you one that you could 
hardly tell from the real thing, sir,” 
he offered. 

"Undoubtedly,” said Svoboda. "I 
have seen our older Guardians tot- 
tering around with prosthetic hearts 
and prosthetic stomachs and a sort of 
prosthetic eye. I am sure the onward 
march of science will soon come to 
a prosthetic brain, which can hardly 
be told from the real thing. Some of 
my colleagues led me to think this 
has already been achieved.” He 
shrugged skinny shoulders. "No. I’m 
too busy. Later, perhaps.” 

The busyness consisted in breaking 
out of the Astronautical Department, 
a notorious dead-end street into 
which nervous superiors had maneu- 
vered him. And having done so, he 
was at once preoccupied with some- 
thing else. There had never been 
time. You had to run pretty fast just 
to stay where you were. 

How many people nowadays had 
read "Alice”? he wondered. 

But the foot often did pain him. 
He stopped to let the throbbing ease. 

"Are you all right, sir?” asked 
Iyeyasu. 

Svoboda looked at the gray-clad 
giant and smiled. His other six 
guards were nonentities, the usual 
efficient impersonal killing machines. 
Iyeyasu did not pack a gun; he was a 
karate man, and he could reach into 
your rib cage and pull your lungs out 
if you displeased Svoboda. 

"I’ll do,” said the Commissioner 
of Psychologies. "Don’t inquire ex- 
actly what I’ll do, but there must be 
something.” 

56 



Iyeyasu offered an arm and his 
master leaned on it. The contrast was 
ridiculous. Svoboda ’Stood barely one 
hundred fifty centimeters tall, with a 
hairless dome of skull and a face all 
dark wrinkles and scimitar nose. His 
childish frame was gaudy in a cloak 
like fire, iridescent high-collared 
tunic, and deep-blue trousers cut in 
the latest bell-bottomed style. Where- 
as the Okinawan wore gray, and had 
a shoulder-length black mane and 
hands deformed by a lifetime’s crack- 
ing bricks and punching through 
boards. 

Svoboda fumbled with yellow- 
stained fingers after a cigarette. He 
stood on a landing terrace, immensely 
high up. Below was none of the park- 
scape which most Commissioners 
chose for their buildings; Svoboda 
had put his departmental tower in the 
same city which spawned^ him. It 
stretched under his feet, as far as he 
could gaze through air-borne filth. 
But past the floating docks, on the 
world’s very eastern edge, he could 
see a mercury gleam that was the 
open Atlantic. 

Dusk was creeping over the- plan- 
et, spires etched themselves black 
across a surly red sundown. Highlevel 
walls and streets began to glow. Low- 
level was a darkness beneath, and a 
muted unending growl of belt.ways, 
generators, autofactories, sparks to 
show a window waking to life or a 
pedicar headlamp or the flashes of 
men going in cudgel-armed parties 
for fear of the Brotherhood. 

Svoboda drew smoke through his 
nostrils. His eyes wandered past the 



ASTOUNDING' SCIENCE FICTION 




aircar, which had borne him here 
from his oceanic house, to the sky. 
Venus stood forth, white against 
royal blue. He sighed and gestured at 
it. "Do you know,” he said, "I’m 
almost glad the colony there has been 
discontinued. Not because it wasn't 
paying for itself, but for a better 
reason.” 

"What is that, sir?” Iyeyasu sensed 
that the commissioner wanted to talk. 
They had been together for many 
years. 

“Now there’s one place you can go 
to get away from humankind.” 

"Venus air is no good, sir. You 
can go to the stars and get away, and 
not wear armor.” 

"But nine years in deepsleep to the 
nearest star. A bit extreme for a 
vacation.” 

"Yes, sir.” 

"And then the planets you And are 
as bad as Venus ... or they’re like 
Earth, but not enough like Earth, and 
men break their hearts. Come on, 
let’s go play at being important.” 

Svoboda leaned back onto his 
crutch and went quickly over the ter- 
race, through an arched portal and 
down a long luminous-walled corri- 
dor. His guards fanned out, ahead 
and behind, their eyes never still; 
Iyeyasu stayed close. Not that Svoboda 
expected assassins. There was a night 
shift here, because Psychologies was 
a major fief within the Federation 
government, but no one on this floor. 

At the hall’s end was a teleconfer- 
ence room. Svoboda hobbled to an 
easy-chair, Iyeyasu helped him into 

ROBIN HOOD’S BARN 



it and set a desk in front of him. 
Most of the men who looked from 
the screens had advisors beside them. 
Svoboda was alone, except for his 
guards. He had always worked alone. 

Premier Selim nodded. Behind his 
image was a window opening on 
palm trees. "Ah, there you are, Com- 
missioner,” he said. "We were just 
beginning to wonder.” 

”1 apologize for lateness,” said 
Svoboda. "As you know, I never 
transact business from my home, so 
I had to come here for the confer- 
ence. Well, a caisson under my house 
sprang a leak, the gyrostabilizers fail- 
ed, and before I knew what had hap- 
pened I was reading the time off a 
seasick octopus. It was ten minutes 
slow.” 

Security Chief Chandra blinked, 
opened a bearded mouth to protest, 
then nodded. "Ah, you make a joke. 
I see. Ha.” He sat in India at sunrise; 
but the rulers of Earth were used to 
irregular hours. 

"Let us begin," said Selim. "We 
will dispense with formalities. How- 
ever, before we start the business at 
hand, is there anything else of ur- 
gency?” 

"Er — ” Rathjen, the present Com- 
missioner of Astronautics, spoke 
timidly. He was the weak son of the 
late Premier; his father had given 
him the post and nobody since had 
cared to take it away. "Er, yes, gen- 
tlemen, I should again like to raise 
the question of repair funds for ... I 
mean to say, we have several per- 
fectly good spaceships which only 
need a few million in repair funds 

57 




to, er, reach the stars again. And then 
all the astronautical academies, really, 
die quality of new recruits is as low 
as the quantity. I should think, that 
is, if we — Mr. Svoboda especially, it 
seems to be in his department — an 
intensive propaganda campaign, di- 
rected at younger sons of the Guard- 
ian families ... or Citizens of profes- 
sional status . . . persuading them of 
the importance, giving the profession 
the, er, the glamor it once had — " 
"Please,” interrupted Selim. "An- 
other time.” 

"I might make a remark, though,” 
said Svoboda. 

"What?” Novikov of Mines turn- 
ed a surprised eye on him. "You are 
the one who brought this special 
conference about. Do you want to 
waste it on irrelevancies ?” 

" 'Nothing is irrelevant,’ ” mur- 
mured Svoboda. 

"What?” said Chandra. 

"I was only quoting Anker, the 
philosophical father of Constitution- 
alism,” Svoboda told him. "Some day 
you might try understanding the 
things you want to suppress. I have 
been assured that it works wonders.” 
Chandra flushed with annoyance. 
"But I don’t want — ’’ he began, and 
decided otherwise. 

Selim looked baffled. Rathjen said 
plaintively, "You were going to com- 
ment on my business, Mr. Svoboda.” 
"So I was.” The small man struck 
a fresh cigarette and inhaled deeply. 
His eyes, a startling electric blue in 
the mummy face, leaped from screen 
to screen. "Commissioner Novikov 
could give you a good reason for the 

58 



decay of astronautics: more people 
and fewer resources every day. We 
can no more afford interstellar ex- 
ploration than we can afford repre- 
sentative government. The vestiges of 
both are being eliminated as fast as 
the anguish of yourself, and the Con- 
stitutionalists, permits. Which I know 
is not as fast as some of you gentle- 
men would like. But by pushing so- 
cial change too hard, the government 
provoked the North American Rebel- 
lion twenty years ago.” He grinned. 
"Therefore we must take the lesson 
to heart and not goad the Astronauti- 
cal Department into revolt. It is easi- 
er to operate a few spaceships for a 
few more generations than to storm 
barricades of filing cabinets manned 
by desperate bureaucrats Waving the 
bloody flag in triplicate. But you on 
your side must not expect us to ex- 
pand, or even maintain, your fleet.” 

"Mr. Svoboda!” gasped Rathjen. 

Selim cleared his throat. "We all 
know the Psychologies Commission- 
er’s sense of humor,” he said ponder- 
ously. "But since he has mentioned 
the Constitutionalists, I trust he 
means to proceed to our real busi- 
ness.” 

The dozen faces turned upon Svo- 
boda and did not let go. He veiled 
his own stare in smoke and answered, 
"Very well. I daresay Commissioner- 
baiting is a cruel sport, and we’d all 
do better to pick good-looking Citi- 
zen girls off the streets for several 
weeks of Special Instruction." Now 
Larkin of Pelagiculture was the one 
who glared. "Perhaps you aren’t all 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




familiar with the issue on hand. I’ve 
submitted a special report on the 
Constitutionalists to Premier Selim, 
Mr. Chandra, and the Commandant 
of North America. It proved so con- 
troversial that the whole Guardian 
Commission has been asked to debate 
it.” 

He nodded at Selim. The Premier’s 
harsh gray face looked a bit startled; 
it was almost as if Svoboda had given 
him permission to go ahead. He har- 
rumphed, glanced at the paper on his 
desk, and said: 

"The trouble is, the Constitutional- 
ists are not a political group. If they 
were, we could round them up to- 
morrow. They are not even formally 
organized, and there are all shades of 
agreement among them. It's a philos- 
ophy.” 

"Bad!” murmured Svoboda. "Phi- 
losophies only rationalize emotional 
attitudes. The very name of this one 
is a Freudian slip.” 

"What’s that?” asked Novikov. 

"You ought to know,” said Svo- 
boda sweetly. "You’re rather an ex- 
pert. To continue, though. Officially, 
the name ’Constitutionalism’ only re- 
fers to an attitude toward the physi- 
cal universe, an advocacy of basing 
thought patterns on the constitution 
of reality. But I grew up here, where 
half the population still speaks Eng- 
lish. And in English, that word Con- 
stitution is loaded ! The North Amer- 
ican insurrection was brought on 
when the Federation government per- 
sistently and flagrantly violated — not 
the spirit of their poor old much- 
amended Constitution; they were al- 

ROBIN HOOD’S BARN 



ways good at that themselves — but 
the letter of it.” 

"I know that much,” said Chandra. 
"Don’t think I haven’t investigated 
these philosophers, as you call them. 
I know that many were in the revolt, 
or had fathers who were. But they 
aren’t dangerous. They may grumble 
to themselves, but as a class they’re 
not doing so badly. They’ve no rea- 
son to start another futile uprising.” 
He shrugged. "Actually, most of 
them must be intelligent enough to 
see that that bill of rights or what- 
ever it was simply doesn’t work when 
there are half a billion people on 
their continent, eighty per cent illit- 
erate.” 

"What are they, anyway?” asked 
Dilolo of Agriculture. 

"Mostly North American,” said 
Svoboda. "I mean of the old stock, 
not the more recent immigrants. But 
their doctrines are spreading through 
the educated Citizens all oyer the 
world. I imagine if you quizzed, 
you’d find a fourth of the literate 
population, rather more than that 
among scientists and technicians, in 
substantial agreement with Constitu- 
tionalist doctrine. Though, of course, 
they wouldn’t think of themselves 
under that name, usually.” 

"In other words,” said Chandra, 
"it’s not just another new religion. 
Not for the yuts. Nor for Guardians, 
as a rule" — he gave Svoboda a . lin- 
gering glance — "or top-level Citi- 
zens. So I agree it merited investiga- 
tion. But I found Constitutionalism 
appealed to the hard-working, pros- 
perous-but-not-rich man: the sober, 

69 




solid type, who has won a little more 
status than his father and hopes his 
son may have just a little more than 
himself. Such people aren’t revolu- 
tionaries.” 

"And yet,” said Svoboda, "Con- 
stitutionalism is becoming a great 
deal stronger than you would expect 
from the small number of formal 
adherents." 

"How?" asked Larkin. 

"You leave your engineers’ daugh- 
ters alone, don’t you?” said Svoboda. 

"What has that ... I mean, ex- 
plain yourself before I lodge a criti- 
cism!’’ 

Svoboda grinned. He could break 
Larkin any time he chose. "The 
Guardians have the power,” he said, 
"but what’s left of Earth’s middle 
class has the influence. There’s a dis- 
tinction. The masses don’t try to imi- 
tate the Guardians, or really listen to 
us; the gap is too great. Their natural 
leaders are the lower-middle-class 
Citizenry. As for us, we may decree 
the irrigation of Morocco, and round 
up a million convicts to dig canals 
and die; but only if the upper-middle- 
class specialist has assured us it’s fea- 
sible. He probably advised it in the 
first place! 

"The trouble with Constitutional- 
ism is, it’s all too likely to give this 
middle class an awareness of their 
potential power, and thereby start 
them agitating for a corresponding 
voice in the government. Which 
could be more than a little bit lethal 
to us.” 

There was a pause. Svoboda finish- 

60 



ed his cigarette and struck another. 
He felt the air wheeze in his throat. 
All the world’s biomedics couldn’t 
make up the abuse he visited on 
lungs and bronchial tubes. But what 
else was there to do? he thought 
somewhere in a private darkness. 

Selim said, "This is not a question 
of personal menace, gentlemen. But 
the Psychologies Commissioner has 
persuaded me that if we care about 
our children and grandchildren, we 
must think seriously on this matter." 

"You don’t mean to arrest all the 
Constitutionalists?” asked Larkin, 
alarmed. "But you can’t do that! I 
know how many of my key technical 
personnel are ... I mean, it could be 
a disaster to every pelagic city on 
Earth!” 

"You see?” smiled Svoboda. He 
shook his head. "No, no. Besides 
such practical, immediate difficulties, 
mass arrests involve a danger of pro- 
voking new conspiracies to overthrow 
the Federation. I’m not that stupid, 
my friends. I propose to undermine 
the Constitutionalist movement, not 
batter at it.” 

"But see here,” objected Chandra, 
"if it’s a simple question of a prop- 
aganda campaign, you don’t need all 
of us to — ” 

"More than propaganda. I want to 
close the Constitutionalist schools. 
Never mind the adults; it’s the next 
generation that we’re worried about 
anyway.” 

"You wouldn’t let their brats into 
our schools, would you?” gasped 
Dilolo. 

"I assure you, they don’t have 
ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




vermin,” said Svoboda. "Of course, 
they might be infected with a little 
originality. But no, I’m not that dras- 
tic. However, my idea is radical 
enough to need full Commission ap- 
proval. It involves reviving the old 
concept of free compulsory educa- 
tion.” 

After the hubbub had faded, which 
it did because he sat and ignored it, 
he went on: "Oh, modified, to be 
sure. I don’t plan to rope in the 
hopeless seventy-five per cent of the 
population. Let them go their merry 
way. We can rig admission standards 
to keep them out, easily enough. 
What I do want is a decree that all 
basic education will be financed by 
tlie government and must meet offi- 
cial requirements. Which means my 
requirements. I'll leave the appren- 
tice cc-nters, academies, monasteries, 



and other useful or harmless institu- 
tions alone. But the schools maintain- 
ed according to Constitutionalist 
principles will be found to have a 
deplorably low academic level. I’ll 
fire their teachers and put in some 
good loyal hacks and some good loyal 
propaganda.” 

"There’ll be trouble,” warned 
Dilolo. 

"Yes. But not too much. Of course 
the parents will object. But what can 
they say? Here the state, in a sudden 
gush of benevolence, is lifting the 
burden of school costs off their shoul- 
ders — never mind where the taxes 
come from — and making sure that 
their children will be properly taught 
and properly adjusted to society. If 
they want to instill their funny little 
beliefs in addition, why, they can 
do it in the evenings and on holi- 
days.” 



ROBIN HOOD’S BARN 



61 



"Ha!” Chandra laughed. "A lot of 
good that will do." 

"Just so,'/ agreed Svoboda. "A 
philosophy has to be lived; you can’t 
acquire it in an hour a day from a 
weary father who lectures you while 
you’d rather be out playing ball. Your 
non-Constitutionalist classmates are 
going to ridicule your oddities. And 
at the same time, the parents will 
scarcely be able to stir up popular 
support. This simply isn’t the kind 
of issue which brings on revolutions. 
We will, almost literally, kill Consti- 
tutionalism in its cradle.” 

"You haven’t yet proven that it’s 
worth the trouble of killing,” said 
Novikov. 

Larkin put in vindictively: ”1 
know why it is. Because Mr. Svo- 
boda’s only son is a Constitutionalist, 
that’s the reason. Because they broke 
up over the issue ten years ago and 
haven’t spoken since!" 

Svoboda’ s eyes turned quite pale. 
He held them on Larkin for a very 
long time. Finally Larkin squirmed, 
twisted a pencil in his fingers, looked 
away, looked back, and wiped sweat 
off his face. 

Svoboda continued to stare. It 
grew very still in the room — in all 
the rooms. 

At the end, Svoboda sighed. "I 
shall lay the detailed facts and analy- 
sis before you, gentlemen,” he said. 
"I shall prove that Constitutionalism 
has the seeds of social change in it: 
radical change. Do you want' the 
World Wars back again? Or even a 
bourgeoisie strong enough to try for 
a voice in government? That sounds 

62 



less dramatic, but I assure you, the 
Guardians will be killed just as dead. 
Now, in order to prove my conten- 
tion, I shall begin with — ” 

The address which Theron Wolfe 
had given turned out to be on the 
fiftieth floor in a district once proud. 
Joshua Coffin could remember almost 
a century back, how the skytown had 
reared alone among trees and gar- 
dens, and only a dun cloud in the 
east bespoke the city. But now the 
city had engulfed this tower with 
mean plastic shells of tenement. In 
another generation, this would be 
Lowlevel. 

"However," said Wolfe, ”1 have 
lived here all my life, and gotten a 
sentimental attachment to the place.” 

”1 beg your pardon?” Coffin was 
startled. 

"It might be hard for a spaceman 
to realize.” Wolfe smiled. "Or for 
most better-to-do Citizens, as far as 
that goes. They are even more no- 
madic than you, First Officer. Gener- 
ally you have to be of Guardian fam- 
ily, with an estate, or one of the 
nameless mass too poor to move any- 
where, to strike roots nowadays. But 
I am a middle-class exception." He 
stroked his beard and added after 
a moment, sardonically: "Besides 
which, it would be hard to find a 
comparable apartment. You must re- 
alize that Earth’s population has dou- 
bled since you left.” 

"I know,” said Coffin. It emerged 
harsher than he had intended. 

"But come in.” Wolfe took his 
arm and led him off the terrace. They 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




entered a living room archaic with 
broad windows, solid furniture, pan- 
eling which might be actual wood, 
shelves of books both folio and 
micro, a few age-cracked oil paint- 
ings. The merchant’s wife, plain and 
fiftyish, bowed to her guest and went 
back to the kitchen. She actually 
cooked her own fopd ? Coffin was ir- 
rationally touched. 

"Please sit down.” Wolfe waved 
a hand at a worn, ugly chair — an 
antique, but highly functional. Unless 
of course you prefer the modern fash- 
ion of sitting cross-legged on a rug. 
Even Guardians are beginning to 
think it’s stylish.” Horsehair rustled 
under Coffin’s weight. "Smoke?” 

"No, thank you.” The spaceman 
realized his tone had been too prim, 
and tried to rationalize. '.'It’s not a 
common habit in my profession. 
Mass-ratio, you know, approximately 
nine to one for an interstellar jour- 
ney — ■” He stopped. "Pardon me. I 
did not mean to talk shop.” 

"Oh, but I would much prefer you 
did. That’s why I invited you here, 
after catching your lecture.” Wolfe 
took a cigarillo from the box. "How 
about a drink?” 

Coffin accepted a small glass of 
dry sherry. The genuine article, 
doubtless fabulously expensive. In a 
way it was a shame to waste it on his 
unappreciative palate. 

He looked at Wolfe. The merchant 
was big, plump, still hearty in mid- 
dle age, with a neat gray Vandyke 
on an unusual broad face. The space 
between his eyes gave him a curious 
withdrawn look, as if a part of him 

Robin hood’s barn 



always stood aside from the world 
and watched. He wore a formal robe 
over dress pajamas, but his feet 
were bare in slippers. The colors 
were as sober as the rest of this room. 

Wolfe sat down, sipped, rolled 
smoke around his mouth, and said, 
"A shame so few people heard your 
lecture, First Officer. It was most in- 
teresting.” 

"I am not a very good speaker," 
said Coffin, correctly enough. 

"The subject matter, though. To 
think, a planet of Epsilon Eridani 
where men can live!” 

Coffin felt a thickness of anger. 
Before he could stop himself, his 
tongue threw out: "You must be the 
thousandth person who has said I 
was at Epsilon Eridani. For your in- 
formation, Epsilon is a miserable 
dwarf of no use to any Christian. It 
is e Eridani which the Ranger visited. 
I thought you heard my lecture.” 
"Slip of my mind. Sorry.” Wolfe 
was more urbane than contrite. 

Coffin bowed his head, hot-faced. 
"No. I beg your pardon, sir. I was 
heedless and ill-mannered.” 

"Forget it,” said Wolfe. "I believe 
I understand why you’re so tense. 
How long were you away, now? 
Eighty-seven years, of which eighty- 
two, less watches, were spent in deep- 
sleep. It was the climax of your ca- 
reer, an experience such as it is grant- 
ed few men to have. Then you came 
back. Your home was gone, your kin- 
folk scattered, the people and mores 
changed almost beyond recognition. 
Worst of all, there’s hardly a soul 
who cares. You offer them a new 

63 




world, and they yawn at yon when 
they do not jeer:” 

Coffin sat quiet a while, twirling 
the sherry glass in his lingers. He was 
a long man with a jagged Yankee 
face under hair just starting to be 
grizzledr He still affected snug-fitting 
tunic and trousers of black, buttons 
with an American eagle, everything 
knife-creased, though even in the 
space service the uniform was now 
ludicrously archaic. 

'.'Well,” he said at last, struggling 
for words, "I expected a ... a dif- 
ferent world . . . when I came back. 
Of course. But somehow I did not 
expect it would be different in this 
fashion. We, my companions and I, 
like all interstellar spacemen, we 
knew we had chosen a special way 
of life. But it was in the service of 
man, which is the service of God. 
We expected to return to the Society, 
at least, our own spacemen’s nation 
within all nations — do you under- 
stand that?’’ It ripped from him: 
"But the Society was so dwindled!” 

Wolfe nodded; "Not many people 
realize it yet, First Officer,” he said, 
"but space travel is dying.” 

"Why?” mumbled Coffin. “What 
have we done, that this is visited up- 
on us?” 

"We have eaten up our, resources 
with the same abandon with which 
we have increased our numbers. 
Therefore the Four Horsemen have 
ridden out. Exploration is becoming 
too costly.” 

"But . . . substitutes . . . new alloys, 
aluminum must still be abundant . . . 

64 



thermonuclear energy, thermionic 
conversion, dielectric storage — ” 

"Oh, yes,” said Wolfe. He blew 
a smoke ring. "But it’s not enough. 
Theoretically, we can supply unlimit- 
ed amounts of fusion power. But 
there is so little for that power to 
work on. Light metal and plastics can 
only do so much, then you need steel. 
Machines need oil. Well, lean ores 
can be processed, organics can be 
synthesized, and so forth. But all at 
a steadily rising cost. And what you 
do produce has to be spread thinner 
every year: more people. Of course, 
there’s no longer any pretense at 
equal sharing. If we tried that, we’d 
all be down on Lowlevel. Instead, 
the rich get richer and the poor get 
poorer. The usual historic pattern, 
Egypt, Babylon, Rome, India, China, 
now all Earth. So the conscientious 
Guardian — there are more than you 
might think — doesn’t feel right about 
spending millions, which could be 
used to alleviate quite a bit of Citizen 
misery, on mere discovery. And the 
non-conscientious Guardian doesn’t 
give a damn.” 

Coffin was startled. He looked 
hard at the other. 

"I have heard mention of some- 
thing called, er, Constitutionalism,” 
he said slowly. "Do you subscribe to 
the doctrine?” 

"More or less," admitted Wolfe. 
"Though that’s a rather gaudy name 
for a very simple thing, an ideal of 
seeing the world as it actually is and 
behaving accordingly. Anker never 
called his system anything in particu- 
lar. Laird was a rather gaudy man, 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




an d — ” He paused, smoked with the 
care of a thrifty person remembering 
what tobacco cost, and went on: 
"You're probably as much of a Con- 
stitutionalist, First Officer, as the av- 
erage among us.” 

"I beg your pardon, no. It seems, 
from what I've heard, to be a hea . . . 
a Gentile belief.” 

"But it isn’t a belief. That’s the 
whole point. We're among the last 
holdouts against a rising tide of 
Faith. The masses, and lately even a 
few upper-levels, turn via mysticism 
and marijuana toward a more toler- 
able pseudo-existence. I prefer to in- 
habit the objective universe.” 

Coffin grimaced. He had seen 
abominations. There was a smiling 
idol where his father’s white church 
had overlooked the sea. 

He changed the subject: "But 
don’t the leaders, at least, understand 
that space travel is the only way to 
escape the economic trap? If Earth is 
growing exhausted, we have an entire 
galaxy of planets.” 

"That doesn’t help Earth much,” 
said Wolfe. "Consider the problem 
of hauling minerals nine years from 
the nearest star, with a nine-to-one 
mass ratio. Or how much bottom do 
you think it would take to drain off 
population faster than it could be re- 
placed here at home? No, no, even 
interplanetary exploitation has about 
stopped paying for itself. As for 
colonizing — Rustum is the first planet 
yet found where men could live with- 
out special apparatus.” 

Coffin said, driven by a reluctant 

robin hood’s barn 



honesty: "As I explained, sir, a good 
deal of equipment would still be 
needed. With one or two exceptions, 
we didn’t find any native life forms 
in five years of study which can be 
eaten by man. And then, of course, 
the gravity is wearing, and only the 
highlands are really habitable.” 

"There you are,” said Wolfe. 

"But it could be done!” exploded 
Coffin. "My lectures have outlined 
the methods. And it would keep the 
tradition alive — knowing that there 
was a colony, a place where a man 
could still find elbow room — and we 
could keep looking for still better 
planets.” 

"We won’t,” said Wolfe bluntly. 
"There’s another trouble with your 
emigration idea. The wage slave Citi- 
zen — sometimes, on Lowlevel, an 
actual slave, in spite of fancy double- 
talk about contract — he can’t afford 
such an expensive passage. And why 
should the state pay his fare? It won’t 
lessen the number of mouths at 
home; it will . only make fhe state that 
much poorer, in its efforts to fill 
those mouths. Nor is the Citizen him- 
self interested, as a rule. Do you 
think an ignorant, superstitious child 
of crowds and walls and machines 
can survive, plowing soil on an emp- 
ty world under an alien sun ? Do you 
think he even wants to try?” He 
spread his hands. "As for the liter- 
ate, technically minded class of peo- 
ple, they have it pretty good so far. 
Why should they uproot?” 

"I am becoming aware of all this,” 
nodded Coffin. 

Wolfe’s wide face tightened into 

65 




a grin. "Another thing, First Officer. 
Suppose, somehow, this colony were 
established. Would you want to go 
live there yourself?” 

"Good heavens, no!’' Coffin jerked 
upright. 

"Why not?" 

"Because . . . because I’m a space- 
man. And there wouldn’t be any 
spaceships operating out of Rustum 
for generations. The colonists will, 
uh, would have too much else to do.” 

"Exactly. And I am a dealer in 
fabrics. And my neighbor Israel Stein 
thinks space travel is a glorious thing, 
but he teaches music. My friend John 
O’Malley is a protein chemist, who 
would certainly be useful as such on 
a new planet, and he goes skindiving 
and blew several years’ savings once 
on a hunting trip — but his wife has 
ambitions for their children. And 
there are others who love their com- 
fort, such as it is; or are afraid; or 
feel too deeply rooted; or name your 
own reason. All interested, all sym- 
pathetic, but let someone else do it. 
The people you could get who are 
ready, willing, and able to go, can’t 
finance the trip. Q. E. D.” 

"So it seems.” Coffin stared into 
his empty glass. 

"But I’ve seen all this for myself,” 
he said after a while, his words 
wrenched and slow. "I realize my 
profession is on the way out. And 
it’s the only profession open to me. 
More important, to my children, if I 
ever have any; for of course I would 
have to marry within the Society, I 
just can’t find a decent home life any- 
where else — ’’ He stopped. 

66 



"I know,” gibed Wolfe, not very 
sharply. "You beg my pardon. Nev- 
er mind. Times change, and you are 
from out of time. I shall not dwell 
upon the fact that my older daughter 
is a Guardian’s mistress, nor will I 
raise your hair by remarking that this 
does not trouble me in the least. Be- 
cause there are some rather more im- 
portant changes in recent months, of 
which I do disapprove with all my 
soul, and they are the main reason I 
invited you here tonight.” 

Coffin looked up. "What?” 

Wolfe cocked his head. "I believe 
dinner is about ready. Come, First 
Officer.” He took his guest’s arm 
again. "Your lectures have been ad- 
mirably dry and factual, but what I 
would like from you now is a still 
more detailed description. Just what 
Rustum is like, and what equipment 
Would be needed to establish a colony 
of what minimum size, and the cost 
. . . everything. I assume you would 
rather talk that kind of shop than 
make polite noises at me. Well, 
here’s your chance!” 

Even among his admirers, there 
were many people who would have 
been astonished to learn that Torvald 
Anker was still alive. They knew he 
was born a century ago, that he had 
never been rich enough to afford 
elaborate medical care — for he would 
give a pauper boy with intelligence 
the same right to sit at his feet and 
question him that he refused a 
wealthy young dullard who offered 
good fees. So it seemed natural that 
he would have died. 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




His writings bore out that impres- 
sion. The magnum opus, which men 
were still debating, was now sixty 
years old. The last book, a small vol- 
ume of essays, was published twenty 
years back, and even it had been a 
gentle anachronism, the style as easy 
and the thought as careful as if Earth 
still held a few countries where 
speech was free. Since then he had 
lived in a tiny house on the Sognef- 
jord, avoiding the publicity which he 
had never courted. The district was 
a fragment of an older world, where 
a sparse population still lived largely 
by individual effort, men spoke with 
deliberateness in a beautiful language 
and cared that their children be edu- 
cated. Anker taught elementary 
school for a few hours a day, re- 
ceived food and housekeeping in re- 
turn, and divided the rest of his time 
between a garden and a final book. 

On a morning in early summer, 
when dew still lay on his roses, he 
entered the cottage. It was centuries 
old, with a red tile roof above ivied 
walls. From here a man could look 
down hundreds of meters, wind, sun, 
and stone, a patch of wildflowers, a 
single tree, until he saw cliff and 
cloud reflected in the fjord. Some- 
times a gull sailed just in front of 
the study window. 

Anker sat down at his desk. For a 
moment he rested, chin in hand. It 
had been a long climb up from the 
water’s edge, and he had often been 
forced to stop for breath. His tall 
thin body had grown so frail he 
sometimes thought he could feel the 
sunshine streaming through. But it 

ROBIN hood’s barn 



needed little sleep, and when the 
light nights came — the sky was like 
white roses, someone had written — 
he must go down to the fjord. 

Well. He sighed, brushed an un- 
ruly lock off his forehead, and 
swiveled the ’writer into position. 
The letter from young Hirayama 
was first on the correspondence pile. 
It was not very well written, but it 
had been written, with an immense 
will to say, and that was what count- 
ed. Anker was not opposed to the 
visiphone per se, but quite apart from 
avoiding interruptions of thought, he 
had a duty not to own one. The 
young men must be forced to write if 
they wanted contact with him, be- 
cause writing was as essential to the 
orderly training of the mind as con- 
versation, perhaps more so, and else- 
where it was a vanishing skill. 

His fingers tapped the keys. 

My dear Saburo, 

Thank you for your confidence in me. 
I fear it is .misplaced. My reputation, 
such as it is, has been gained largely 
- by imitating Socrates. The longer 1 
think upon matters, the more I believe 
that the touchstone is the epistemolog- 
ical question. How do we know what 
we know, and what is it we know? 
From this query a degree of enlight- 
enment sometimes .comes. But I am 
not at all certain that enlightenment is 
very similar to wisdom. 

However, I shall try to give posi- 
tive answers to the problems you bring 
me, keeping always - in mind that the 
only real answers are those a person 
finds for himself. But remember that 
these are the opinions of one who has 
long shut himself away from modern 
reality. I think it has afforded a gain 

67 





68 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




in perspective, but I look out of an 
old reality, now becoming quite alien, 
out of salt water and rowan trees and 
huge winter nights, on the active hu- 
man world. Surely you are far more 
competent to handle its practical de- 
tails than I. 

First, then, I do not recommend 
that you devote your life to philoso- 
phy, or to basic scientific research. 
"The time is out of joint,” and there 
would be nothing for you but a sterile 
repetition of what other men have 
said and done. In this judgment I am 
guided by no Spenglerian mystique of 
an aged civilization, but by the very 
hardheaded observation of Donne that 
no man is an island. Be you never so 
gifted, you cannot work alone; the 
cross-fertilization of equally interested 
colleagues, the whole atmosphere, 
must be there, or originality becomes 
impossible. Doubtless the biological 
potential of a Periclean era or a Ren- 
aissance always exists: genetic statis- 
tics guarantee that. But social t condi- 
tions must then determine the extent 
to which this potential is realized, 
and even' the major forms of expres- 
sion it takes. I hope I am hot being 
a sour old man in thinking that the 
present age is as universally barren as 
the Rome of Commodus. These things 
happen. 

But — second — you ask implicitly if 
something can be done to change this. 
In all frankness, I have never believed 
so. There may be theoretical ways, 
just as it is theoretically possible to 
turn winter into summer by hastening 
the planet along its orbit. But ^practi- 
cal limitations intervene; and it is just 
as well that mortal men with mortal 
scope do not have the power of 
destiny. 

You seem to think that I was, on 
the contrary, once active in politics, a 
founder of the Constitutionalist 
movement. This is a popular fallacy; 
I had nothing to do with it, and never 
even met Laird. (He is rather a mys- 

ROBIN HOOD’S BARN 



terious figure anyway, I gather, sud- 
denly appearing without any back- 
ground — presumably of Lowlevel 
birth, self-educated — and vanishing as 
completely after a decade. Murdered, 
perhaps?) He was an enthusiastic and 
understanding reader of mine, but 
made no attempt at personal contact. 
He said he was only applying my 
principles to a concrete situation. His 
phenomenal rise came after the sup- 
pression of the North American re- 
volt, when a crushed, despairing socio- 
economic-ethnic group turned toward 
a leader who put their inchoate beliefs 
into sharp focus and who offered them 
a practical set of rules to live by. Ac- 
tually these rules amounted to little 
more than the traditional virtues of 
patience, courage, thrift, industry, 
with an interwoven scientific rational- 
ism, but if it has heartened them in 
their comeback I am honored that 
Laird quoted - me. 

However, I see no long-range hope 
for them. The tide is ebbing too 
strongly. And now, I hear, the masters 
have decided to eliminate Constitution- 
alism as a danger to the status quo. 
It is being very cleverly done, in the 
guise of free education; but it amounts 
to absorbing ihe next generation into 
the common ruck.- Let me be grateful 
that this poor district does not qualify 
for a public school. 

If we cannot refof® society, . then, 
can we save ourselves ? There is a 
traditional way. As the Did Americans 
would have put it: Get the hell out! 
The monastic orders ' of the post- 
Roman past, or of feudal China, India, 
and Japan, did this, in effect; and I 
note that their latter-day equivalent is 
becoming more prominent every dec- 
ade. It has been my own solution too, 
though I prefer being an anchorite to 
a cenobite. The advice grieves me, 
Saburo, but this may be the only an- 
swer for you. 

There was once another way out, 
Christian leaving the City of Destruc- 

69 




tion in the most literal sense. Ameri- 
can history is full of examples, Puri- 
tan, Quaker, Catholic, Mormon. And 
today the stars are a new and more 
splendid America. 

But I fear this is not the right cen- 
tury. The pioneering misfits I speak of 
departed from . a vigorous society 
which took expansion for granted. It 
- is not characteristic of moribund cul- 
tures to export their radicals. The 
radicals themselves have little interest 
in departure. I would personally love 
to end my days on. this new planet 
Rustum, deep though my roots are 
here, but who would come with me? 

Therefore, Saburo, we can only en- 
dure, until 

Anker’s hands fell off the keys. 
The pain through his breast seemed 
to rip it open. 

He stood up, somehow, clawing 
for air. Or his body did. His mind 
was suddenly remote, knowing that it 
had perhaps a minute to look down 
upon the fjord and out to the sky. 
And he said to himself, with a 
strange thankful joy, the promise 
three thousand years old, Odysseus, 
death will come to you out of the 
sea, death in his gentlest guise. 

Everybody knew Jan Svoboda was 
estranged from his father the Com- 
missioner. But no orders for his ar- 
rest, or even his harassment, had ever 
come, so presumably the parent re- 
tained a certain affection -for the child 
and a reconciliation was possible. 
This would in fact, if not officially, 
re-elevate the young Citizen to 
Guardian status. Therefore it was ad- 
visable to stay on the right side of 
him. 

70 



And thus Jan Svoboda could never 
be sure how much of his rise was due 
to himself and how much to some 
would-be sycophant in the Oceanic 
Minerals office. With few exceptions, j 
he could not even be sure how many; 
of his friends really meant it. Norj 
did his attempts to find out, or his] 
occasional blunt questions, lead any-| 
where. Certainly not ! He became aj 
bitter man. , j 

His father's educational decree] 
provoked a tirade from him which? 
brought envy to the eyes of his fel-] 
low Constitutionalists. They- wouldj 
have liked to make those remarks, but ; 
they weren't Commissioner’s sons.; 
Their own formal appeals were de- 
nied, and they settled down to make- 
file best of a foul situation. After all, 
they were a literate, well-to-do, prag% 
matically oriented class; they could 
give supplemental instruction at 
home, or even hire tutors. 

The new system was established. A 
year passed. . 

On a gusty fall evening, Jan Svo-i 
boda set his aircar down at home. 
Great gray waves marched from the. 
west and roared among the house 
caissons. 

Their spume and spindrift went 
over the roof. The sky streamed 
past, low and ragged. Visibility was ; 
so narrow that he could see no other 
houses. at all. 

Which suited him, he thought. A 
sea dwelling was expensive, and* 
though well paid, he could only af- 
ford this one because a Constitution- 
alist normally led a quiet life. Even 
so, he felt the pinch. But where else 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




could a man live these- days without 
a horizon cluttered by oafs? 

His car touched wheels to the main 
deck, the garage door opened for him 
and closed behind, he got out into 
an insulated quietness. Faintly came 
a whisper that was gymbal mount- 
ings, gyrostabilizers, air conditioner, 
power plant; louder were the hoot of 
wind and the ocean where it brawled. 
He had a wish to step out and take 
the cold wet air in his face. Those 
idiots in the office today, couldn't 
they see that the ion exchange system 
now in use Was inefficient- at tropical 
concentrations, and a little basic re- 
search could produce a design which 
— Svoboda hit the car with a knotted 
fist. It was no use. There was nothing 
to fight, you might as well try to 
catch water in a net. 

He sighed and entered the kitchep. 
He was a medium-sized, rather slen- 
der man, dark, with high cheekbones 
and hooked nose and a deep, prema- 
ture wrinkle between his eyes. 

"Hullo, darling.” His wife gave 
him a kiss. "Ouch,” she added. 
"That was like bussing a brick wall. 
What happened?” 

"The usual,” grunted Svoboda. He 
heard startling silence. "Where’ re the 
kids?” . 

"Jocelyn wanted to stay ashore 
overnight with a girl friend. I said 
it was all right.” 

Svoboda stopped. He stared at her 
for a long time. Judith took a back- 
ward step. "Why, what’s the mat- 
ter?” she asked. 

"What’s the matter?” His voice 
rose as he spoke. "Do you realize we 

Robin hood’s barn 



broke off yesterday in the middle of 
the conformal-mapping theorem ? 
She just can't get it through her head. 
No wonder, with her whole day 
given to Homemaking or some such 
ridiculous thing, as if her only choice 
in life fell between being a rich 
man’s, toy and a poor man’s slave. 
And how do you expect she’ll ever be 
able to think without knowing how 
language functions? Great horny 
toads! By tomorrow night she'll have 
forgotten everything I said!” 

Svoboda grew aware he was shout- 
ing. He stopped, swallowed, and con- 
sidered the situation objectively. "All 
right,” he said. "I’m sorry. You did 
not know, I guess.” 

"Perhaps I .did,” said Judith slow- 

ty- 

"What?" Svoboda, who had been 
leaving the kitchen, spun on his heel. 

She braced herself and told him: 
"There’s more to life than just dis- 
cipline. You can’t expect healthy 
youngsters to go to the mainland four 
days a week, six hours a day, meeting 
other children who live there, hear- 
ing games planned, excursions, par- 
ties — after school — and then return 
here, where there isn’t anyone their 
age, nothing but your lessons and 
your books.” 

"We go sailing,” he argued, taken 
aback. "Diving, fishing . . . visiting, 
even. The Lochabers have a boy 
David’s age, and the de Smets — ” 

"Somebody they meet once a 
month!” interrupted Judith. "Their 
friends are on the mainland!” 

"Fine lot of friends,” snapped 

71 




Svoboda. "Who’s Jocelyn staying 
with?" She hesitated. "Well?” 

"She didn’t say.” 

He nodded, stiff in the neck mus- 
cles. "I thought so. You see, we’re 
old fogies. We wouldn’t approve of 
a fourteen-year-old girl at a harmless 
little marijuana party. If that’s all 
they have planned.” He shouted 
again: "Well, this is the last time it 
happens. Any more such requests are 
to be turned down flat, and hell take 
their precious social lives!” 

Judith caught a shaky lower lip be- 
tween her teeth. She looked away 
from him and said, "It was so differ- 
ent last year.” 

"Of course it was. We had our 
own schools then. No need for extra 
instruction, because the right things 
were taught during the regular hours. 
No need to worry about their school- 
mates — all our kind, with decent be- 
havior and sensible prestige symbols. 
But now, what can we do?” 

Svoboda passed a hand across his 
eyes. His head ached. Judith came 
over and rubbed her cheek across his 
breast. "Don’t take it so hard, sweet- 
heart,” she murmured. "Remember 
what Laird always used to say. 'Co- 
operate with the inevitable.’ ” 

"You’re omitting what he meant 
by ’co-operation,’ ’’ replied Svoboda 
gloomily. "He meant to use it the 
way a judo master uses his oppo- 
nent’s attack. We’re forgetting his 
advice, all of us are forgetting, now 
that he’s gone.” 

She held him close for a wordless 
minute. The glory came back, he 
looked beyond the wall and whisper- 

72 



ed, "You don’t know what it was 
like, coming into the movement as 
late as you did. I was just a child 
myself, and my father jeered at him 
all the time, but I saw the man speak, 
both video and live, and even then 
I knew. Not that I really understood. 
But I knew here was a tall man and 
a beauitful voice, talking about hope 
to people whose kin lay dead in 
bombed-out houses. I think after- 
ward, when I began to study the 
theory of it, I was trying to get back 
the feeling I had had then . . . And 
my father could do nothing but make 
fun of it!” He stopped. "I'm sorry, 
dear. You’ve heard this from me 
often enough.” 

"And Laird is dead,” she sighed. 

He blurted in reborn anger what 
he had never told her before: "Mur- 
dered. I’m sure of it. Not just some 
chance Brother on a dark street . . . 
no, I got a word here, a hint there, 
my father had spoken to Laird pri- 
vately, Laird had grown too big . . . 
I accused him to his face of having 
had Laird done away with. He grin- 
ned and did not deny it. That was 
when I left him. And now he’s try- 
ing to murder Laird’s work!” 

He tore free of her and stormed 
from the kitchen, through the din- 
ing room on his way out. A taste of 
the gale might cool the boiling in 
him. 

On the living room floor, his son 
David sat cross-legged, swaying with 
half shut eyes. 

Svoboda stopped. He was not no- 
ticed. 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




"What are you doing?” he said at 

laS, ITie nine-year-old face turned up 
to him, briefly dazed as if wakened 
from sleep. "Oh . . . hello, sir.” 

"I asked what you were doing,” 
rapped Svoboda. 

David’s lids drooped. Looking 
from beneath them, he had a curious 
sly appearance. "Homework,” he 
muttered. 

"What kind of homework is that? 
And since when has that flatheaded 
wretch of a teacher made any demand 
on your intellect?” 

"We’re to practice, sir.” 

"Quit evading me!" Svoboda 
planted himself above the boy, fists 
on hips, and glared down. "Practice 
what?” 

David’s expression was half muti- 
nous, but he seemed to decide on co- 
operation. "El, el, elementary attune- 
ment,” he said. "Just to get the tech- 
nique. It takes years to have the ac- 
tual experience.” 

"Attunement? Experience?” Svo- 
boda stood back. He had again the 
sense of trying to net a river. 
"Explain yourself. Attunement to 
what?” 

David flushed. "The Ineffable 
All." It was a defiance. 

"Now wait,” said Svoboda, fight- 
ing for calm. "You’re in a secular 
school. By law. You’re not being 
taught a religion, are you?” For a 
moment, he hoped so. If the govern- 
ment ever started favoring one of the 
million cults and creeds over another, 
it would guarantee trouble — which 
might make a wedge for — 

Robin hood’s barn 



"Oh, no, sir. This is fact. Mr. Tse 
explained it all.” 

Svoboda sat down beside his son. 
"What kind of fact?” he asked. 
"Scientific?” 

"No. No, not exactly. You told me 
yourself, science don’t have all the 
answers." 

"Doesn’t,” corrected Svoboda me- 
chanically. "Agreed. To maintain 
that proposition is equivalent to 
maintaining that the discovery of 
structured data is the sum total of hu- 
man experience: which is a self- 
evident absurdity.” He felt pleased 
at the control in his own voice. 
There was some childish misunder- 
standing here, which could be cleared 
up with sensible talk. Looking down 
on the curly brown head, Svoboda 
was almost overwhelmed by tender- 
ness. He wanted to rumple the boy's 
hair and invite him to the sun porch 
for a game of catch. However— 

"In normal usage,” he explained, 
"the word ’fact’ is reserved' for em- 
pirical data and well-confirmed 
theories. This Ineffable All is an ob- 
vious metaphor, and thus has no 
place in factual discourse. You. must 
mean you’re studying some form of 
aesthetics.” 

"Oh, no, sir.” David shook his 
head vigorously. "It’s true. A higher 
truth than science.” 

"But then you are speaking of 
religion !” 

"No, sir. Mr. Tse told us about it, 
and all the older kids in his school 
are already in, uh, in some degree of 
attunement. I mean, by these exer- 
cises you not only ap, ap, apprehend 

73 




the All but become the All, which 
you aren’t every day, I mean — ” 

Svoboda leaped back to his feet. 
David stared. The father said in a 
tone that shook: "What sort of non- 
sense is this? What do those words 
All and Attunement mean? What 
structure has this identification, which 
is somehow only an identification on 
alternate Thursdays, got? Go on! 
You know enough basic semantics to 
explain it to me clearly. You can at 
least show me where definitions fail 
and ostensive experience takes over. 
Go on, tell me!” 

David sprang up, too. His fists 
were clenched at his sides and tears 
stood in his eyes. "That don’t mean 
anything!" he yelled. "You don't! 
Mr. Tse says you don’t! He says all 
this playing with words and d-d-defi- 
nitions, logic, it’s all a lot of hooey ! 
He says it’s all down on the material 
plane, and the real fact is Attune- 
ment and I’m only hindering myself 
by studying logic and, and, and the 
older kids all laughed at me! I don’t 
want to study your old semantics! I 
don’t want to! I won’t!” 

Svoboda regarded him for an en- 
tire minute. Then he strode back 
through the kitchen. "I’m going out,” 
he said. "Don't wait for me.” The 
garage door shut behind him. Mo- 
ments afterward, Judith heard his car 
take off into the storm. 

Theron Wolfe shook his head. 
"Tsk-tsk-tsk,” he scolded. “Temper, 
temper.” 

"Don’t tell me it’s immature to get 
angry,” said Jan Svoboda in a dull 

74 



voice. "Anker never wrote any such 
thing. Laird said once it was nonsanej 
not to get angry, in atrocious situa-J 
tions." i 

"Agreed,” said Wolfe. ”AncU noj 
doubt you relieved your glands con-1 
siderably by flying to the mainland^ 
storming into poor little Tse’s one-j 
room apartment, and beating him up] 
before the eyes of his wife and chil-l 
dren. I don’t see that you accomplish-] 
ed much else, though. Come on, let’sj 
get out of here.” ] 

They left the jail. A respectful po-j 
liceman bowed them toward Wolfe’s] 
car. "Sorry about the misunderstand- 1 
ing, sir,” he said. ' 

"That’s all right,” said Wolfe.’ 
"You had to arrest him, since he; 
wasn’t doing his brawling injljOw- 
level and you didn’t know he was; 
the Psychologies Commissioner’s] 
son.” 

Svoboda lifted a tired lip. "But 
you did well to call me as he in- 
sisted.” , ] 

"Do you wish to file any charges 
against the Tse person?” asked the 
officer. "We’ll take care of him, sir.” 
"No,” said Svoboda. 

"You might even send him some 
flowers,” suggested Wolfe. "He’s on- 
ly a hack, executing his orders.” 

"He doesn’t have to be a hack,” 
clipped Svoboda. "I’m sick of this 
whine, ’Don’t blame me, blame the 
System.’ There isn’t any system: there 
are men, who act in. certain ways.” 
Wolfe’s Jovian form preceded 
him into the car. The merchant took 
the controls and they murmured up 
the ramp. Presently they were air- 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 





borne. It was still night, still windy; phistophelean smile. "Look here,” he 

the jeweled web of Highlevel illumi- said, "you were always a hairtrigger 

nation stretched thin above the city type, but basically levelheaded. Oth- 

darkness; low in the east, a hunch- erwise you wouldn’t be a Constitu- 

backed moon sent flickers of light off tionalist. Let’s examine the situation, 

a black restless Atlantic. Why do you care what your children 

"I had your car picked up and shot become? I mean, naturally you want 

a message to Judith,” said Wolfe. them to be happy and so on, but does 

"How about staying overnight .with it have to be your kind of happi- 

me and taking a holiday tomorrow?” ness?” 

"All right.” Svoboda slumped. "Let’s not get into the hedonistic 

Wolfe put the autopilot on Cruise, fallacy,” said Svoboda with a weary 

offered a cigar, and struck one for sort of annoyance. "I want my kids 

himself. Its red glow as he sucked to become the right sort of human 

sketched his features upon shadow, adults.” 

a goateed Buddha with a faint Me- "In other words, not only individ- 

76 



ROBIN hood’s barn 



uals, but cultures have an instinct to 
survive," said Wolfe. "Very good. I 
agree with you. Our particular culture 
emphasizes the conscious mind, per- 
haps too much for perfect health but 
there you are. It’s being swallowed 
up in a new culture which exalts a 
set of as-yet-undefined subconscious 
functions. We’re like the Jewish 
Zealots, English Puritans, Russian 
Old Believers, all trying to restore 
certain basics they felt had been cor- 
rupted. (And actually, like them, 
creating something altogether new, 
but let's not dim that fine fresh pur- 
posefulness of yours with too much 
analysis.) Also like them, we’re more 
and more at odds with the surround- 
ing society. At the same time, our 
beliefs are becoming popular with a 
certain class of people, all over Earth. 
This in turn alarms the custodians of 
things-as-they-are. 

"Well?” said Svoboda. 

"Well," said Wolfe, ”1 don’t see 
how conflict is to be avoided, and 
physical force is still the ultima ratio. 
But I don’t advise putting well-mean- 
ing little teachers in the hospital.” 

Svoboda sat up straight. "You 
don’t mean another rebellion?” he 
exclaimed. 

"Not like the last fiasco,’’ said 
Wolfe. "Let’s not end up like the 
Old Believers. The Puritan Common- 
wealth is the analogy we desire. It’ll 
take patience . . . yes, and prudence, 
my friend. What we must do is or- 
ganize. Not too formally, but we 
must be able to act as a group. It 
won’t be hard to achieve that much; 
you aren’t the only man who resents 

76 



what’s being done to his children. 
Once organized, we can start making 
our weight felt. Boycotts, for in- 
stance; bribes to the right officials; 
and please don’t look shocked when 
I point out that Lowlevel is full of 
skilled assassins with very reasonable 
fees.” 

"I see." Svoboda was calmer now. 
"Pressure. Yes. We may be able to 
get our schools restored, if nothing 
else.” 

"Don’t forget," said Wolfe, "pres- 
sure provokes counterpressure. If we 
act, the government will react, and 
then we must react to that. The pos- 
sible, even probable end result is 
war.” 

"What? No!” 

"Or a coup d’etat. Most likely civil 
war, though. Since a few military and 
police personnel already subscribe to 
Constitutionalism, and we can hope 
to recruit more, we’ve a chance to 
win. If we proceed with care. This 
can’t be hurried. But ... we might 
start quietly caching weapons.” 

Again Svoboda was jarred. He had 
seen dead men in the streets, when 
he was a child. Next time there 
might even be the ultimate violence 
of the nuclear bomb or the artificial 
plague. And how much rebuilding 
would be possible afterward, on this 
impoverished globe? 

"We’ve got to find another way,” 
he whispered. "We can’t let it go 
that far.” 

"We may have to,” said Wolfe. 
"We will most certainly have to 
threaten to. Or else go under.” He 
glanced at the profile beside him. It 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




stood sharp against a few stars, al- 
ready stiffening with resolution 
which, nourished, could become 
fanaticism. Wolfe nearly declared 
what was really in his mind, but 
stopped himself. 

Commissioner Svoboda looked at 
the clock. "Get out,” he said. "All 
of you.” 

The guards obeyed in surprise. 
Only Iyeyasu remained; that went 
without saying. For a moment the big 
office was quiet. 

"Your son comes now, yes?” asked 
the Okinawan. 

"In five minutes,” said Svoboda. 
"He’ll be prompt, if I know him. To 
be sure, men change, and we haven’t 
spoken for a good many years.” 

He felt a nervous tic in the corner 
of his mouth. It wouldn’t stop. The 
dwarfish man scrambled from his 
chair and limped across to the full- 
wall transparency. The towers and 
ways shimmered below him, heated, 
but winter lay in pale sky and far- 
looking frosty sun. A late winter this 
year. Svoboda wondered if it would 
ever end. 

Not that the season mattered, 
when your life ran out in offices. But 
he would like to see the cherry or- 
chard crowning this building bloom 
once more. He had never allowed the 
roof to be greenhoused. Let’s keep a 
little unscientific nature in the world ! 

"I wonder if that’s why techno- 
logical civilization is dying,” he 
mused. "It may not be the loss of 
resources, or the uncontrolled obses- 
sion to reproduce, or the decline of 

ROBIN hood’s barn 



literacy, or the rise of mysticism, or 
any such thing at all. Those may on- 
ly be effects, and the real cause be a 
collective unconscious revolt against 
all this steel and machinery. If we 
evolved among forests, do we dare 
cut down every tree on Earth?” 

Iyeyasu didn’t answer. He was 
used to his master's moods. He look- 
ed at him with compassionate small 
eyes. 

"If this be so,” said Svoboda, 
"then perhaps my maneuverings have 
served no real purpose. But come, we 
Practical Men have no time to stop 
and think.” 

The sardonicism uplifted him. He 
went back and sat down behind his 
desk and waited, a cigarette between 
his fingers. 

The door opened for Jan on the 
stroke of 0900. Svoboda’s first shock- 
ed thought- was Bernice. Oh, God, he 
had forgotten how the boy had Ber- 
nice’s eyes, and she fifteen years in 
the earth. He sat for a moment in an 
aloneness that stung. 

"Well?” said Jan coldly. 

Svoboda braced his thin shoulders. 
"Sit down,” he invited. 

Jan perched on a chair’s edge and 
stared across the desk. He had grown 
a lot thinner, his father noticed, and 
tense, but the youthful awkwardness 
was gone. An uncompromising harsh 
face jutted above that plain gray 
tunic. 

"Smoke?” asked the Commis- 
sioner. 

"No,” said Jan. 

"I hope everything is all right at 
home? Your wife? Your children?" 

77 




Most men are privileged to see their 
own grandchildren. Ah, stop snivel- 
ing, you tin pot Machiavelli. 

"We are in physical health," said 
Jan. His voice was like iron. "You 
are a busy man, Commissioner. I 
don’t wish to take up your time un- 
duly.” 

"No, I suppose not.” Svoboda put 
another cigarette between his lips, re- 
membered he was still holding the 
first, and ground it out with needless 
violence. Self-control returned, to 
parch his tones. "I imagine, when the 
question of a conference between my- 
self and a representative of your new 
Constitutionalist Association first 
arose, it seemed most natural for me 
to have your president, Mr. Wolfe, 
come see me. You may wonder why I 
specified you instead, who are only 
the engineering delegate on your pol- 
icy committee.” 

Jan’s mouth tightened. "I hope you 
did not plan a sentimental appeal.” 

"Oh, no. The fact is, Wolfe and I 
have had several discussions.” Svo- 
boda chuckled. “Ah-ha. That startled 
you, eh? Now if I were determined 
to wreck your organization, I would 
let you stew over the fact. But the 
truth is merely that Wolfe talked to 
me on the ’phone, unofficially, and 
sounded me out on various points. Of 
course, that entailed me sounding 
him out too, but we came to a tacit 
agreement.” 

Svoboda leaned on his elbows, 
puffed smoke, and went on: "It’s 
been several months since your or- 
ganization was formed. Constitution- 
alists have been joining it by the 

78 



thousands, all over the world. What 
they want from it varies — some, a 
spokesman for their grievances; some, 
doubtless, a revolutionary under- 
ground; the majority probably have 
no more than vague unformulated 
expectations of help. Since you have 
not yet adopted any clear-cut pro- 
gram, you have disappointed no one. 
But now your committee must soon 
come up with a definite plan of ac- 
tion, or see the outfit revert to jelly." 

"We will,” said Jan. "Since you 
know so much, I can tell you what 
our first step will be. We’re going to 
make a formal petition for repeal of 
your so-called school decree. We’re 
not without influence on several of 
our fellow Commissioners. If the pe- 
tition is denied, we will call for 
stronger measures.” 

"The economic squeeze.” Svo- 
boda’s big bald head nodded. "There- 
after strikes, disguised as mass resig- 
nation. Boycotts. Civil disobedience, 
if that fails. And then — Oh, well. 
It’s a classic pattern.” 

"Classic because it works," said 
Jan. The blood crept up his dark 
cheeks, making him heartbreakingly 
boylike again. 

"Sometimes.” 

"You could save a lot of trouble 
all around by canceling the decree at 
once. In that case, we might be will- 
ing to compromise on a few points.” 

"Oh, but I’m not going to," Svo- 
boda folded his hands as if in prayer, 
rolled his eyes upward, and chanted 
piously around his cigarette, "The 
public interest demands the public 
school.” 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




Jan jumped erect. "You know 
that’s only a hypocritical way of de- 
stroying us!” he exclaimed. 

"As a matter of fact,” said Svo- 
boda, "I plan to have the curriculum 
modified next fall. The time now de- 
voted to critical analysis of certain 
classics could better be spent in rote 
memorization. And then, with hal- 
lucinogens becoming so important 
socially, a practical course in their 
proper use — " 

"You shriveled-up son of a sew- 
er!" screamed Jan. He lunged across 
the desk. 

Iyeyasu was there, without seeming 
to cross the floor between. The edge 
of a hand cracked down on Jan’s 
wrist. The other hand, stiff-fingered, 
poked him in the solar plexus. Jan 
gasped out his wind and collapsed 
backward. 

"Careful, there,” warned Svoboda. 

"No harm done, sir,” Iyeyasu as- 
sured him. He eased Jan into the 
chair and began kneading his shoul- 
ders and the base of his skull. "He 
gets air back in a minute.” With an 
ill concealed rage: "Is not a way to 
speak to your father.” 

"For all I know,” said Svoboda, 
"he may have been literally cor- 
rect.” 

The glaze left Jan’s eyes, but no 
one talked for a while. Svoboda lit 
another cigarette and stared into 
space. He wanted to look at the boy, 
there might never be another chance, 
but it would be poor tactics. Jan 
slumped under Iyeyasu’s mountainous 
form. At last he spoke, sullenly: 

ROBIN hood’s barn 



"I don’t apologize. What else 
could you expect?” 

"Nothing, perhaps.” Svoboda 
made a bridge of his fingers and re- 
garded his son across them. "There 
will certainly be resistance to such 
measures. And yet I am only under- 
lining a conflict which would other- 
wise proceed to the same inevitable 
end. You did not let me explain why 
you, rather than Wolfe, are your peo- 
ple’s representative today. The fact is 
that you are young and hot-headed, a 
much better spokesman for the up- 
coming Constitutionalist generation 
than an older, more cautious, less in- 
doctrinated man. The extremists in 
your party might repudiate any agree- 
ment Wolfe made, simply because he 
is Wolfe, notoriously all things to all 
men. But if you endorse a plan of 
action, they will listen.” 

"What agreement can we make?” 
it snarled back at him. "Unless you 
return our children to us — ” 

"No maudlin figures of speech, 
please. Let me explain the difficulty. 
You and the government represent 
opposing ways of life. They simply 
cannot be reconciled. Once, perhaps, 
there was a possibility of co-existence. 
There may be again in the future, 
when the issues no longer seem vital. 
But not now. Just suppose that we 
did give in, repealed the education 
decree and reinstated your school sys- 
tem. It would be a victory for you 
and a defeat for us. You would gain 
not only your objective, but confi- 
dence, support, strength; we would 
lose correspondingly. How long be- 
fore you made your next demand? 

79 




You have other grudges besides this. 
Having gotten back your schools, you 
may next want back the right to criti- 
cize political basics. If you gain that, 
you will want the right to agitate 
publicly. Having gotten that, you will 
want representation on the Commis- 
sion. Then you will want laws against 
dope. Then — But I need not elabo- 
rate. It seems best to settle the issue 
now, once and for all, before you get 
too strong. And that's why you won’t 
get as much support from my col- 
leagues as you expect.” 

Jan bristled. "If you think this is 
the final word — ” 

"Oh, no. I have already indicated 
how you will fight. I’m also well 
aware of your potential for accumu- 
lating weapons, subverting military 
units, and at last resorting to force. 
A number of Guardians want to ar- 
rest the lot of you right now. But 
alas, you are too important. Imagine 
the chaos, if suddenly a fourth of the 
technical personnel in Minerals or 
Pelagiculture vanished, without even 
training their successors! Or if Wolfe 
was suddenly removed from his de- 
vious routes of supply, where would 
half the mistresses on Highlevel get 
new gowns to outshine the other 
half? Then, also, it’s notorious that 
martyrs are a stimulant to any cause. 
There would be plenty of young men, 
who had never cared one way or an- 
other about your philosophy, sudden- 
ly fired by the vision of a thing big- 
ger than themselves — Yes, we might 
provoke the very war we were set- 
ting out to forestall.” 

Svoboda leaned back. He had the 

80 



boy on the ropes now, he saw: be- 
wildered eyes, half parted lips, a 
hand raised as if uncertain whether 
to defend or appeal or offer thanks. 

"There is a possible compromise,” 
he said. 

"What?” The question was barely 
audible, in that big room which faced 
a winter sky. 

"Rustum. E Eridani II.” 

"The new planet?” Jan’s head 
snapped up. "But — ” 

"If the most dissatisfied Constitu- 
tionalists left voluntarily, after mak-- 
ing proper arrangements for replace-. 
ment personnel and so on, the pres- 
sure would be off us. Then, in time,, 
we could back down on the school 
issue and please your stay-at-home 
fellows, without actually being de- 
feated on it. Or, even if we didn’t, 
you would be quit of us. The success- 
ful planting of a colony would be 
kudos for the Commission, a shot in 
the arm for space travel, and there- 
fore well worth our support and en- 
couragement. As for the considerable 
expense involved — you all own valu- 
able property which couldn’t be taken 
with you, so you can sell out and 
thereby finance the passage and the 
necessary equipment. 

"It’s an old pattern in history. 
Massachusetts, Maryland, Pennsylva- 
nia, were all promoted by a govern- 
ment which was hostile to the ideals 
involved. Why not a repeat perform- 
ance?” 

"But twenty light-years,” whisper- 
ed Jan. "Never to see Earth again.” 
"You’ll have to give up a lot,” 
agreed Svoboda. "But in return, you 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




will escape the risk of destruction by 
force or absorption by my evil 
schemes.” He shrugged. "Of course, 
if your nice radiant-heated sea house 
is more important than your philoso- 
phy, by all means stay home." 

Jan shook his head, as if it had 
taken a blow. "I’ll have to think 
about it,” he mumbled. 

"Consult Wolfe,” said Svoboda. 
"He’s already looked into the mat- 
ter.” 

"What?” The eyes that were Ber- 
nice’s grew candid with surprise. 

"I told you Wolfe is not a fire- 
eater,” said Svoboda, grinning. "I 
gather he’s discussed the. possibility 
of war, and done some organizing 
for it, but I suspect he’s really been 
trying for no more than a strong bar- 
gaining position — so he can make us 
send you to Rustum.” 

This was the right note, he saw. 
If Wolfe the mentor had really been 
operating behind the scenes, Jan 
would have less fear of a bomb in 
whatever scheme was proposed. 

"I’ll have to talk to him.” The boy 
stood up. He was suddenly trem- 
bling. "To all of them. We’ll have to 
think — Good-by.” 

He turned and stumbled toward 
the door. 

"Good-by, kid,” said Svoboda. 

He didn’t think Jan heard him. 
The door closed. 

Svoboda sat without moving for a 
long time. The cigarette between his 
fingers burned so low that it scorched 
him. He swore, dropped it in the 
disposer, and struggled to his feet. 

ROBIN hood’s barn 



The broken foot was hurting him 
again. 

Iyeyasu glided around the desk. 
Svoboda leaned on the tree trunk 
arm, shuffling to the clear wall until 
he could stare out and catch a glitter 
of open ocean. 

"Your son comes back, yes?” asked 
Iyeyasu finally. 

"I doubt it,” said Svoboda. 

"You wanting them to go to the 
planet?” 

"Yes. And they will. I haven’t- 
been working all these years without 
getting to know my machinery.” 

The sun out there was pale, but its 
light hurt Svoboda’s eyes, so he had 
to rub them with a knuckle. He said 
aloud, in a precise but somehow not 
steady tone: "Old Inky was an edu- 
cated man in his way. He used to 
claim that the only axiom in human 
geometry is, the straight line is not 
the shortest distance between two 
points. In fact, there are no straight 
lines. I find that’s pretty true.” 

"This was your plan, sir?” Iyeya- 
su’s voice held more sympathy than 
intellectual interest. 

"Uh-huh. Anker’s work showed 
me there was no hope for Earth in 
the foreseeable future. Maybe some- 
thing will evolve here a thousand 
years hence, but that won’t help my 
son much. I wanted to get him out 
while there was still time. But he 
couldn’t go alone. It would have to 
be as part of a colony. And the 
colonists would have to be healthy, 
independent, able people — nothing 
else was likely to survive. I was gam- 
bling that a habitable planet would 

81 




be discovered, but I could not gamble 
that it would be very hospitable . . . 
But why should such people leave? 
On the whole, given half a chance, 
they would do rather well at 
home. 

"So there had to be an obstacle on 
Earth which sheer drive and intel- 
ligence could not overcome. What 
sort would that be? Well, it’s in the 
nature of intercultural conflicts to be 
insoluble. When axioms clash, logic 
is helpless. So I set up a rival society 
within the Federation. That wasn’t 
hard. Here in North America, a dy- 
ing culture had just tried to assert 
itself by rebellion, and failed; but it 
wasn’t dead yet. It only needed to 
be given a new spirit and a sense of 
direction. I had Anker’s philosophy 
for a background. I had Laird, a 
marvelous actor with much brains 
and no conscience. He proved expen- 
sive, but faithful, largely because I 
made it plain what would happen if 
he wasn’t. When his work was fin- 
ished, I retired him — a new face, a 



new name, and a lavish pension. He 
caroused himself to death four years 
ago. Of course, the possibility that I 
had had Laird murdered was always 
left open: the first irritating wound. 
Among others.’’ 

Svoboda remembered a boy who 
raged from the house and never came 
back. He sighed. One can’t foresee 
every detail. At least Bernice’s grand- 
children would grow up as thinking 
individuals, if Rustum didn’t eat 
them first. 

"I think we’re over the hump 
now,” he said. "From now on, we 
can sit back and watch the wagon roll 
downhill. With stars at the bottom 
of the hill.” 

"We go south,” suggested Iyeya- 
su clumsily. "We will get a telescope 
and you can watch his new sun.” 

”1 imagine I’ll be dead before he 
gets there,” said Svoboda. He gnaw- 
ed his lip a moment, then straight- 
ened and hobbled from the window. 
"Come on. Let’s go visit some fellow 
Commissioner and be nasty.” 



THE END 



THE ANALYTICAL LABORATORY 



( Continued, from page 53) 
OCTOBER, 1958 ISSUE 



PLACE 


STORY 


AUTHOR 


POINTS 


1 . 


The Big Front Yard 


Clifford D. Simak 


1.81 


2. 


Big Sword 


Paul Ash 


2.27 


3. 


. . . And Check The Oil 


Randall Garrett 


2.68 


4. 


False Image 


Jay Williams 


4.04 


5. 


The Yellow Pill 


Rog Phillips 


4.22 



The Editor. 



82 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




SEEDLING 

BY CHARLES V. de VET 



No man ever acts on the 
Truth; he can only act on what 
he understands the Truth to 



be. Which can, at times, make 
possible something that Truth 
would make impossible alto- 





SEEDLING 



Illustrated by Schoenherr 



83 



SMALL armored lizard 
pokes its dim-witted 
way through the jungle 
growth that hides the 
face of its world like a 
beard of blunt tangled whiskers. It 
pauses and settles cautiously to the 
ground as an evil-eyed, spike-backed 
snake crosses its path. After a min- 
ute the lizard raises its fluid-plated 
body and plods onward, its head 
swiveling sluggishly from side to 
side. 

It reaches a narrow clearing in the 
twisted undergrowth. Here the lizard 
crouches again. From behind comes 
an orchestration of wicked and weird 
sounds and calls as the jungle life 
awakens to the signaling shadows of 
evening: Muted chords of bill on 
wood, the blip blip of a noisy swim- 
mer, and a humming cadence of avari- 
cious insect life. The echo of a foghorn 
bellow in the distance is drowned by a 
strangled shriek near at hand — as 
some creature dies. Night on the liz- 
ard’s world will be normal. 

The small animal’s attention is not 
on the sounds behind. Its beady eyes 
study a tableau in the clearing ahead. 
A huge, hairy beast, with a bald, big- 
eared head, slumps unconscious in an 
oversized chair. Its massive limbs are 
strapped to the chair’s armrests and 
front legs. 

Beside the beast stand two men. It 
is on them that die lizard’s dull in- 
terest is centered. They are the 
anomaly on this world. 

With a concerted effort Caliban 
forced his slack eyelids open. His 

84 



head had become too heavy for the 
flaccid support of his neck and his 
chin rested on his chest. His sight 
focused on the matted rust-brown 
hair on his body. 

His body? 

He lifted his head. A thin, pale- 
cheeked young man met his gaze, 
and stepped back, putting his hand 
nervously to the butt of the pistol on 
his hip. Caliban fitted a name to the 
anemic youth. Emery Mays. He turn- 
ed his glance toward the tall man 
with the gray dust of age at his tem- 
ples, who stood at Mays’ left. This 
one was named Raymond Gorman. 

"How do you feel, Cal?” Gorman 
asked. 

The man was speaking to him. 

Caliban tried to tell him that he felt 

weak and sick, that his mind was a 
« 

mass of blurred images that came 
and went, but his tongue was too 
weighty and his lips unable to form 
the unfamiliar words. All that came 
out was a low growl. 

"It was kind of rough, wasn’t it?” 
Gorman asked. His voice was gentle, 
the voice of a man doing a necessary, 
disagreeable job. "Just take your time, 
Cal,” he said. After a minute he ask- 
ed, "Can you understand what we’re 
saying?’’ 

Caliban nodded hesitantly. 

"Good. Whenever you’re ready, 
let us know what we can do to make 
things easier.” 

"E.z.r?’’ Caliban startled himself 
by speaking. The word was uttered 
harshly, gutturally slurred, but audi- 
ble. 

Gorman smiled with satisfaction. 
ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 





"Fine, Cal, fine,” he said. "Do you 
remember things- now?” 

Caliban blinked his blood-shot 
eyes wearily, but said nothing. 

"No, I suppose not,” Gorman 
mused. "But you will. We’ll have to 
explain a lot, but everything we tell 
you will trigger more in your mind. 
Do you remember us landing here?” 
He brought one arm around in a half- 
circle and indicated the spaceship 
balanced on its fins behind him. 

Caliban followed where he point- 
ed, hesitated, and grunted an assent. 

“I knew you would.” Gorman went 
eagerly ahead. "We found this world 
just too savage to be surveyed by 
ordinary means. But the highest life 
form here was humanoid, so we de- 
vised another way to get the job 
done. You volunteered for the physi- 
cal alteration necessary, and now you 
look as exactly like one of the natives 
as we were able to make you.” 
Caliban said nothing, but the in- 
terest with which he followed Gor- 
man’s explanation showed that he 
understood. 

"You should recall your time un- 
der the operating machine, and the 
weeks we spent helping you get used 
to this physique,” Gorman went on. 
"And the trouble you had learning 
to use your new body.” 

Caliban’s mind was slowly becom- 
ing more rational, and as Gorman 
had said, his every word brought 
fresh remembrances. However, an ac- 
rid stench that had been hovering 
about him all the while wrenched at 
his stomach and his sickness rose 
suddenly into his throat. He strained 



forward. Only then did he notice the 
straps that bound him to his chair. 
He looked up at Gorman with mute 
appeal. 

"We had to tie you,” Gorman ex- 
plained softly. "We didn’t know 
how you’d react when you came out 
of the anesthetic. We just finished 
transferring the thought patterns of 
one of the natives — we’ve been call- 
ing them Apes — about an hour ago.” 
He smiled with a weak attempt at 
humor. "With those muscles you 
could have tom us apart — if your first 
thought had been that you were the 
Ape whose memories we gave you." 

Caliban’s nostrils widened and his 
hairless face took on an expression 
of acute distaste. "S.s.tink!” he ar- 
ticulated laboriously, but with better 
success than his first attempt at speak- 
ing. 

"I’m afraid that was necessary,” 
Gorman answered. "To the best of 
our understanding their odor is the 
principal means of identity between 
tribe members — perhaps greater than 
sight recognition. If you wandered 
into an Ape settlement with the 
wrong scent — or worse, without any 
— you wouldn’t live five minutes.” 

The odor of his own body threat- 
ened to overwhelm Caliban and his 
stomach writhed convulsively. 

"I’ll untie you, Cal,” Gorman said, 
as he stepped forward. 

"Don’t be a fool!” Mays’ words 
brought Caliban’s attention to the 
youth he had observed first on 
awakening. His sallow features had 
become visibly whiter. "Do you want 
to kill us both?” he asked. 



SEEDLING 



85 




Gorman shook his head and pro- 
ceeded to loosen Caliban’s bonds. 
Mays stood indecisively, then drew 
his pistol, and backed quickly toward 
the spaceship. The man was a coward 
as well as a weakling, Caliban ob- 
served with passive interest. When 
the last strap had been loosened he 
lurched from his chair and let the 
distress empty itself on the ground. 

"You’ll feel better for that,” Gor- 
man said. 

Caliban saw now that this man, 
too, was frightened. His untying Cali- 
ban, rather than retreating to the ship 
as Mays had done, had been a brave 
act. "I . . . won’t . . . hurt you,” he 
told Gorman. 

"I know." Gorman’s voice lacked 
conviction. "I think I’d better go in 
now though.” He looked about him. 
"It’s getting dark fast. It’s better 
that you sleep out here — as you have 
been for the past few weeks. You 
aren’t able to rest too well inside. 
But there’s no danger. We have the 
area surrounded with an electric 
fence, you know. Be careful not to go 
too near it if you decide to wander 
about.” 

Caliban did not answer. He eased 
himself to the ground and curled in- 
to a tight ball. He was asleep before 
Gorman reached the spaceship. 

The next morning Gorman decid- 
ed that it was safe for Caliban to 
leave the protected area. "There 
isn’t much more we can fill you in 
on, other than the background stuff 
we’ve already gone over,” he said 
to Caliban. "Once outside you’ll be 

86 



on your own. However, you should 
be able to get by all right — if you 
use a reasonable amount of caution. 
I know you can’t recall much of what 
you got from the Ape now, but what- 
ever you observe outside, and any 
contacts you make, should trigger 
more of those memories.” He waited, 
and when Caliban said nothing, ask- 
ed, "You aren’t afraid, are you?” 

Caliban shook his head. 

"I knew you wouldn’t be,” Gor- 
man assured him. He signaled to 
Mays in the ship to shut off the cur- 
rent in the fence. "You can go 
through now,” he said, opening a 
small gate. "Good luck.” There was 
a forced heartiness in his voice. 

Caliban walked the two hundred 
yards through the trees to the wide 
river that flowed sluggishly through 
the jungle. He had been moving 
quietly and as he came to the water’s 
edge he surprised an Ape crouched 
on hands and knees lapping up the 
tepid water. 

The Ape heard him at the same 
instant and whirled about, springing 
to his feet with the same motion. He 
crouched and bared stained teeth. 
The cuspids were abnormally long — 
measured by human standards. In- 
stinctively Caliban matched the other’s 
pose. For a moment they stood face 
to face, frozen in position, a snarl 
in the throat of each. 

The Ape stood approximately sev- 
en feet tall and his wide body must 
have weighed near to six hundred 
pounds. Yet he was somewhat small- 
er than Caliban. 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTrON 




Caliban became aware that he 
understood the other's mouthings — 
and that he was answering! 

"I am I, a fierce one,” the Ape 
growled. "I have killed many.” 

Caliban noted, with the Earthian 
part of his mind, that there was no 
way of telling where one of the 
Ape’s words left off and another be- 
gan, for he was conveying his threats 
with no use of definite words. Rather 
the sounds, and their manner of ex- 
pression, each conveyed a separate 
meaning. 

His "I have killed many,” ex- 
pressed with a different inflection, 
would have had a different connota- 
tion entirely. 

"I am I,” Caliban answered, the 
observing portion of his mind noting 
that in the Ape language, individuals 
had no name, other than their way 
of saying, "I am I.” He was aware, 
also, by the slight twitching of the 
other’s large ears, that the Ape was 
not challenging. He was boasting to 
convince Caliban of his great prow- 
ess, hoping to scare him off. 

"I journey up the river,” Caliban 
growled. Here, as in all cultures, in 
whatever phases of advancement, 
"face-saving” was a must — if strife 
were to be avoided. "If one delays 
me, I will kill. Even such a fierce 
one as you.” (The "you” was the 
Ape’s own way of expressing "I am 
I.”) 

Having made their boasts, they 
cautiously circled each other and re- 
treated. The Ape man kept his head 
turned to watch, while Caliban was 
certain enough of his own subtly ac- 



knowledged superiority to turn his 
back as he continued upriver. 

Caliban reached the stopping place 
of a colony of Ape people late in 
the forenoon, and recognized it as 
his own tribe — or rather that of the 
Ape man whose personality he had 
acquired. Several of the tribe lounged 
on the river bank and growled warn- 
ings as he walked past, but the ex- 
pressions were not threatening, and 
more in the nature of greetings than 
a show of hostility. 

A large Ape, eating berries from 
a small tree that he had pulled down 
gave a surly grunt and went on eat- 
ing — but watched Caliban warily. 
Caliban recognized him as a rival 
for the "strong one” of the tribe — 
the nearest they came to having a 
leader. - 

He found that he experienced little 
unease about his reception. Evidently 
the Ape personality was dominant 
in these surroundings. Only the 
Earthian segment of his mind ex- 
perienced relief at the success of this 
first contact. 

A female sitting by the river edge, 
with her feet dangling in the water, 
rose eagerly when she saw him ap- 
proach and came over to him. Her 
manner was fawning. His young 
mate — the association clicked into 
place in Caliban's mind. 

He growled curtly and made a dis- 
play of paying no further attention 
to her. She followed at his heels 
without resentment as he made his 
slow progress through the territory 
of the tribe. 



SEEDLING 



87 




Caliban found a spot out of the 
hot sun beneath a jug-leafed tree and 
sat down with 'his back against its 
bole. Here the temperature was satis- 
fyingly warm and he was quite com- 
fortable, except for an occasional in- 
sect able to pierce his tough hide. 
He slapped at them perfunctorily 
when they bit, and they bothered him 
very little. 

In the river a large black head sud- 
denly broke the surface and gazed 
myopically at the tribesmen. After 
the first glances they paid little at- 
tention to the animal. It was one of 
the harmless Herbivora that fed on 
the river bottom vegetation. 

Caliban blinked drowsily at the 
passing stream and soon drifted into 
a light sleep. He awoke to find the 
female sitting beside him — with her 
body resting against his chest. From 
a civilized view she was not an al- 
luring specimen. 

She had few of the humanly ac- 
cepted female attractions. She was big- 
bellied and ugly, and her pendulous 
udders, crusted with filth, hung heavi- 
ly on her breast. Idly Caliban won- 
dered if she were with child. Her 
mouth was open and she breathed 
noisily, with her moist pink tongue 
hung out over one corner of her 
lower lip. A trickle of saliva ran 
thickly down her chin. But most dis- 
agreeable of all was her stench. 

. She smelled rancid, worse than 
Caliban’s own odor — to which he 
had become enough accustomed to 
bear without retching. He pushed the 
female from him and cuffed her on 
the side of the head. He had a mo- 

88 



ment of mild surprise at his own 
harshness, even while realizing that 
his actions were quite in keeping with 
the character he had adopted. 

The female whimpered meekly 
and hunched a short distance away, 
regarding him reproachfully. 

During the late afternoon it began 
to rain and the Ape people left off 
their drowsing, and feeding along 
the river bank, and huddled in the 
shelter of bordering trees and bushes. 
Soon the rain began to come down 
harder, and a strong wind sprang 
up. It built up rapidly to storm pro- 
portions. The temperature dropped 
abruptly and the Apes gathered in 
small groups and huddled together, 
wet and miserable. 

Caliban fared no better. He turned 
his back to the savage wind, but cold 
rain penetrated his fur and ran down 
his shivering body. He thought of 
returning to the ship, but it was sev- 
eral hours journey, and he did not 
want to go out into the storm. He 
was experiencing enough discomfort 
beneath his tree. What he needed 
was a better shelter. If only there 
were even a shack about . . . 

With the thought Caliban rose, 
reluctantly, but purposefully. Any 
kind of action was better than sitting 
on the wet ground, growing more 
uncomfortable every minute. 

He needed only a short search to 
find the kind of sinewy vine he want- 
ed, and used it to bind together a 
framework of small trees and branch- 
es that he broke off with his hands. 
He covered the roof and sides with 
more branches, twined into the 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




framework, and the tougher large 
leaves, and eventually had a rainproof 
hut. 

When he finished he crawled in 
out of the storm. The ground inside 
was still wet and he hunched down 
on his heels, pondering what else 
could be done. After a minute he 
went out again and dug into a pile 
of leaves under a neighboring tree. 
Beneath the top layer he found sev- 
eral thicknesses that were still dry. 
He made a dozen trips before he was 
satisfied with his new dwelling. He 
lay down gratefully. 

With the storm outside, and the 
dryness inside the hut, Caliban soon 
felt a kind of torpid contentment. 
Once again he dropped off to sleep. 

When he awoke the hut was dark. 
He felt a warm body at his side and 
explored cautiously. He recognized 
the whimper, and the odor, of the 
female. He did not force her from 
him. And not because of pity. Her 
warmth was welcome, and with his 
back turned to her the stench was 
not too bad to be borne. 

Toward morning when Caliban 
awoke he found that the storm had 
ceased as abruptly as it had begun. 
He rolled over and went back to 
sleep. The next time he awoke he 
crawled outside and saw that the sun 
had already risen. An hour later the 
woods had dried, and the Ape peo- 
ple again sought shady spots out of 
the sun’s heat. 

Caliban wandered down the river 
bank with several of the Apes until 
they came to a grove of trees bearing 



a large hard-shelled fruit. He and 
the others broke the shells and ate 
the starchy meat inside. It was nu- 
tritious, and quite pleasant to the 
taste. 

He returned to the settlement and 
found many of the natives busy 
copying the shelter he had made the 
night before. It had not taken them 
long to perceive the utility of the 
huts. 

Caliban took his place against the 
bole of a shade tree and waited for 
he knew not what. His Ape nature 
was content, but the other part of him 
was restless — and irritable. The chil- 
dren of the tribe made a continuous 
noise — their play consisted of snap- 
ping and snarling, and frequent 
scufflings. The Ape droppings and 
passings in the area began to ripen 
in the hot sun and the stench soon 
became unbearable. His female added 
to his irritation. She was obviously in 
heat, and persisted in kittenish caper- 
ings about him. The thought of aping 
the activities of some of the males 
and females around him was nause- 
ating. He would be glad when this 
job was over. 

When at last he could tolerate the 
surroundings, and the company of 
the Apes no longer, he decided to re- 
turn to the spaceship. He should have 
enough information to satisfy Gor- 
man and Mays, for a time at least. 

On the way back he circled two 
hammer-headed saurians fighting 
along the river bank, and after sev- 
eral hours sighted the clearing occu- 
pied by the spaceship. Gorman wel- 
comed him back, though Mays either 



SEEDLING 



89 




did not trust him or was still fright- 
ened of him. 

"So they were building shacks 
when you left?” Gorman seemed 
quite pleased. "I figured they'd turn 
out to be more intelligent than they 
appeared at first. My theory is that 
their easy life is their biggest handi- 
cap. They have all the food they 
need, with little effort required on 
their part. And they’re big and pow- 
erful enough, especially when they 
live in groups, to be safe from any 
except the most savage animals. But 
a people has to have struggle to make 
cultural progress. It’s not a pleasant 
thought, but pain is the great stimulus 
to advancement.” 

Caliban did not follow his reason- 
ing too well, and he was not enough 
interested to make an effort to under- 
stand it better. He lay in the shade of 
the spaceship, moving only enough 
to keep it between him and the sun. 

Gorman, too, stayed in the shade 
■ — but he kept busy. He had brought 
a portable saw from the ship and 
cut down a large tree. He sawed off 
two circular slabs which he carved in- 
to serviceable wheels. "You’ll be able 
to use the cart I’m making to haul a 
few supplies, and some equipment, 
when you return to the Ape colony,” 
he said. "I wish I had some ball 
bearings,’’ he went on as he continued 
with his work, "but this wood is as 
hard as teak. The axle should last for 
a long time.’’ Gorman seemed thor- 
oughly preoccupied with his work, 
but his glance went often to Caliban. 

Mays, who had spent most of the 

90 



afternoon in the spaceship, came out 
just as Gorman finished with his cart. 
"What do you say we cook our din- 
ner out here?” he said. "A barbe- 
cue should be fun.” There was some- 
thing oddly strained about his speech. 
He was like a bad actor, reciting his 
lines instead of speaking them. 

"A good idea,” Gorman approved. 
"By the way, I found an outcropping 
of flint rock this morning. I’ve al- 
ways wondered if I could build a fire 
with it — like the American Indians 
did in the old days.” He cut some 
shavings from a piece of soft wood 
laying near the ship and began work- 
ing over them with two pieces of 
flint that he took from his pocket. 

"Well, what do you know,” Gor- 
man exclaimed several minutes later. 
"It works!” He began fanning a tiny 
flame that he had started in the shav- 
ings. Caliban watched with awakened 
interest. 

Gorman and Caliban ate heartily 
of the meal they prepared. Mays 
seemed to have little appetite. 

Caliban’s heavy meal brought its 
usual midday torpor and soon the 
sound of his rasp-throated snoring 
filled the clearing. 

Mays edged nearer Gorman and 
spoke in an undertone. "Nice work, 
Ray. With the principle of the wheel, 
and fire, they’ll advance ten thousand 
years in a few generations.” 

Gorman did not reflect his pleas- 
ure. "Sometimes I wonder if this sort 
of thing is right,” he said grumpily. 
"Earth might be doing more harm 
than good by tampering this way 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




with primitive cultures. What right 
do we have to play God?” 

Mays displayed little patience with 
the older man: "What are they los- 
ing? They’ll live longer, and live 
better. We’re saving them a genera- 
tions-long period of struggle and 
hardship.” 

"I suppose you’re right,” Gorman 
agreed, without enthusiasm. "But how 
about him ?” he asked after a minute, 
indicating the sleeping Caliban with 
an inclination of his head. 

"What about him?” 

"It's going to be pretty rough on 
him when he finds out the truth.” 

"Someone has to suffer,” Mays 
argued. "And it’s a small price to 
pay for the good that’s being 
done.” 

"Is it?" Gorman asked. "Put your- 
self in his place. How would you 
feel when the time came? Would 
you consider it a small price?” 

Mays shrugged noncommittally. 

"Keep the strap around your 
shoulders. It'll be easier to pull that 
way,” Gorman instructed Caliban the 
next morning. The cart was packed 
with supplies and Caliban was ready 
to start back to the Ape people. 

"You can use the cart to bring back 
anything you find that we might be 
able to use. Especially any weapons 
or tools. They’ll be a big help in pin- 
pointing the exact culture stage. We’ll 
probably take them with us when 
we leave.” 

"Where are you going to put 



them?” Mays asked irritably. "That’s 
only a two-man spaceship, you 
know.” 

Gorman scowled fiercely in his di- 
rection and the young man grew si- 
lent. A slow flush stained his pale 
cheeks. Hurriedly Gorman let Cali- 
ban out through the small gate. 

Caliban spent three days in the Ape 
camp this second trip. That was as 
long as he could stand the filth and 
promiscuous conditions in the settle- 
ment. And one other thing irked him : 
Some small unease that tantalized his 
thoughts. He couldn’t place quite 
what it was. It seemed that it might 
be something one of the men back 
at the spaceship had said, something 
of vast portent. 

The afternoon of the third day 
Caliban returned to the landing site. 

The spaceship was no longer 
there! 

With the discovery the unease that 
had irked Caliban’s consciousness 
crystallized^ Mays had said it was a 
two-man ship. A leaden weight 
seemed to form in Caliban’s stomach. 

Only two men had c6me to the 
planet— and only two had left. 

That meant that he was . . . 

Caliban’s emotions grew numb, as 
from a sudden frost. He' looked 
slowly about him, with empty eyes 
that seemed to be seeing this land 
then for the first time. 

After a long minute he walked 
with lackluster steps out into his 
lonely world. 



THE END 



SEEDLING 



91 




DEADLOCK 




Illustrated by van Dongen 



BY 

ROBERT and BARBARA SILVERBERG 



When brilliant, wise, and sincere men are 
in absolute disagreement — you can safely 
assume that they must both be wrong! 



92 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



R. SALDANHA: Would 
you say, sir, that trans- 
formation of Mars in- 
to a planet habitable 
for human beings 
could be achieved within a genera- 
tion? 

Mr. Reed: Definitely. Our estimate 
is that it would take fifteen to twenty 
years to handle the job properly, at 
the most. 

Mr. Saldanha: Does this apply to 
Venus as well? 

Mr. Reed: Oh, no. We haven’t 
been thinking about terraforming ' 
Venus. It would be a lot more com- 
plicated than Mars. But we have the 
procedure all worked out for Mars 
already, you see. 

Mr. Saldanha: What would be the 
cost of transforming Mars into a 
livable -world, then? 

Mr. Reed: The figures are all 
down in the specifications I submit- 
ted to this committee, Mr. Chairman. 

Mr. Saldanha: Yes, of course. But 
would you be good enough to repeat 
them for the benefit of the listening 
audience? 

Mr. Reed: It would be in the 
neighborhood of a hundred-eighty 
billion dollars, Mr. Chairman. 

Mr. Saldanha: This cost figure is 
substantially higher than that pro- 
posed by the backers of the genetic 
alteration proposal, is it not? I be- 
lieve Dr. Hwang estimated the cost 
of successful adaptation of human 
beings for life on Mars as something 
like one hundred ten billion dollars. 

Mr. Reed: Yes, pantrop/s cheap- 
er. But when you’ve done that, what 



do you have? So far as Earth’s im- 
mediate benefit is concerned, you 
have nothing. Absolutely nothing. I 
don’t believe in false economy. 
I don’t see how the Western coun- 
tries could ever bring themselves to 
support the proposal of the Chinese 
bloc, Mr. Chairman. It’s too fantastic 
to consider seriously. 

— Extract from transcript of 
hearing before the United Na- 
tions Commission on Planetary 
Colonization, 14 March 2052. 

With an impatient flick of his 
hand, Dane Merrill snapped the 
video -set off. The serene counte- 
nance of the Brazilian diplomat and 
the pouchy, seamed face of the 
American industrialist were drag- 
ged into an electronic whorl and 
out of sight. Scowling, Merrill 
wheeled round to face his wife. He 
was a heavy-set man, stocky and 
strong; at thirty-eight, he was an im- 
portant figure in the operations of 
the United Nations. . . 

"There you have it,” he exclaimed 
angrily. "Right there, in a nutshell. 
Reed and his bunch think terraform- 
ing is the only answer, and they 
won’t even consider the Chinese 
proposition, even though it’s seventy 
billion bucks cheaper!’’ 

"Won’t the difference in cost af- 
fect the decision?” Ellen Merrill 
asked. 

"Not very much. The money’s 
just part of a bigger picture. Reed’s 
argument is that it’s better to spend 
a hundred eighty billion on some- 
thing that’s likely to bring you per- 

93 




DEADLOCK 



petual returns, than to throw a hun- 
dred ten billion away with no return 
whatever. But the Chinese say that 
their process will give a greater re- 
turn, for less than two-thirds the cost. 
And there it hangs, with neither side 
giving an inch. Ellen, it can hang 
there for a hundred years!” 

"Surely some compromise — ” 

He shook his head. "There isn’t 
any real compromise possible. You 
can’t terraform half a world and seed 
the rest with pantropically altered 
people.” 

"What about the other plan they 
were mentioning, Dane?” 

"The Scandinavian - Indonesian 
idea?” Merrill shrugged. "That’s not 
a plan, it’s an evasion. They want to 
build pressurized domes on Mars — 
on Venus too, for that matter — and 
let it go at that. But the scheme’s 
ridiculous. No civilization can de- 
velop under a dome. The Moon 
colony proves that. Either you change 
the planet to fit the species, or you 
change the species to fit the planet — 
but you don’t try to make the best 
of both factors when colonizing alien 
worlds. Uh-uh. It can’t be done.” 
Merrill subsided. He had been 
through this with Ellen night after 
night for six weeks, ever since the 
matter had erupted into open debate 
at the United Nations. She had agree- 
ably played straight man for him, 
allowing him to rid himself of some 
of his pent-up accumulation of 
nervous energy .But the daily routine 
of frustration was taking its toll on 
Merrill. That, and the growing sense 
of international strain. 



Until six weeks before, he had 
been a member of the liaison staff of 
U.N. Secretary-General St. Leger. He 
had been a troubleshooter whose 
main task was to smooth over ad- 
ministrative difficulties in the United 
Nations. St. Leger could not do the 
whole job himself, and so he delegat- 
ed some of his powers to trusted staff 
men. Merrill was a professional con- 
ciliator. His function in the hierarchy 
of the Secretariat was to keep the 
machinery oiled. But now, it seemed, 
the machinery was about to break 
down completely. 

St. Leger had called him into his 
office six weeks ago, on the 30th of. 
January. The plump, many-chinned, 
gimlet-eyed Canadian had gone 
through the usual ritual of offering 
Merrill a smoke and a drink, out of 
his private stock of eighty-four proof 
brandy, before he got down to the 
main business at hand. 

"Dane, I’m going to relieve you 
from active duty for a while.” 

"Sir?” 

St. Leger chuckled ponderously. 
"No, you haven’t done anything 
wrong. I merely want to free you 
from routine work temporarily. I 
have a special project in mind for 
you. A most important project.” 

Merrill leaned forward, listening 
carefully. He stubbed out his ciga- 
rette. 

, St. Leger said, "In three days the 
Commission on Planetary Coloniza- 
tion is going to start holding hear- 
ings. The hearings — they’ll be chair- 
ed by Senhor Saldanha of Brazil, by 



94 



astounding science fiction 




the way — will continue until all as- 
pects of the situation have been 
thoroughly trampled around, after 
which a series of resolutions wHl be 
presented to the General Assembly 
for consideration.” The Secretary- 
General locked his hands over his 
burgeoning paunch. "I’ve done a 
little advance scouting, and I think 
I can extrapolate the outcome of the 
hearing. Deadlock. Flat, unbreakable 
deadlock. A deadlock that can en- 
dure all our lifetimes, and beyond, 
and keep Man chained down to Earth 
forever." 

Merrill waited quietly. He knew 
St. Leger was not expecting ques- 
tions. St. Leger was telling, not dis- 
cussing. 

"What I want you to do, Dane, is 
stay home and watch the debates on 
video. The rest of the time I want 
you to familiarize yourself complete- 
ly with the situation — the historical 
background, the scientific implica- 
tions, the personalities of the leading 
figures in the hearings — in short, 
everything that could possibly be 
relevant. Eat, breathe, sleep, and 
dream Planetary Colonization.” St. 
Leger chuckled. "If Ellen gives you 
any trouble, let me know and I'll 
talk to her. But I don’t think Ellen 
will give you any trouble.” 

"I hardly think so, sir." 

"Good. She's a remarkably under- 
standing woman. I envy you, at 
times — although bachelorhood has 
its advantages, too.” St. Leger grip- 
ped the arms of his chair and said, 
"Some time this spring the hearing 
will end. Everyone involved will 



have run out of hot air to release. 
At that time, the situation will be in 
total deadlock, unless I miss my 
guess — and I haven't guessed wrong 
on anything important in fifteen 
years. That's when you step in. Using 
my name, of course. We’ll have to 
negotiate some kind of compromise." 

"But—” 

”1 know, no compromise seems to 
exist. Well, Dane, we’ll have to 
find one. Or else the human race is 
going to remain strapped to its home 
planet by a gigantic swathe of red 
tape.” 

Mr. Saldanha: Would you describe 
the process your laboratories have de- 
veloped, Dr. Hwang? 

Dr. Hwang: Its main technique, 
Mr. Chairman, is tectogenetic micro- 
surgery. There are other auxiliary 
facets, of course. Irradiation of the 
genetic matter, polynuclear molding, 
DNA manipulation — 

Mr. Saldanha: Pardon a layman's 
ignorance. What did you say? 

(Laughter) 

Dr. Hwang: DNA. Deoxyribonu- 
cleic acid. The basic hereditary 
material — the complex protein mole- 
cule in which the blueprint for the 
bodily design is carried. The nucleic 
acids are our frime targets in pan- 
tropic work, you see. We have even 
developed techniques for synthesiz- 
ing desired molecule configurations 
to produce the intended somato-type. 

Mr. Saldanha: I see. Using these 
techniques, you can alter the appear- 
ance of unborn individuals? 

Dr. Hwang: We can alter far 

95 



DEADLOCK 




more than their appearance, Mr. 
Chairman. We can alter their entire 
metabolic systems. 

Mr. Saldanha: In other words, you 
can create beings capable of surviving 
the living conditions on Mars? 

Dr. Hwang: We are confident of 
this. In the case of providing Mar- 
tian colonists it would be necessary 
to create a metabolic cycle capable 
of extracting energy from carbon 
dioxide, and, of course, of subsisting 
in substantially lower temperatures 
than ours. This we can do. 

Mr. Saldanha: Have you given any 
thought to the possibility of develop- 
ing pantropic forms for other planets 
of the solar system — as well as the 
Moon? 

Dr. Hwang: The Moon has no at- 
mosphere. We are unable at present 
to conceive of a being that can per- 
form respiration in a virtual vacuum. 
Most of the other planets have ex- 
tremes of temperature or gravitation- 
al attraction that place them beyond 
reach of our present modest abilities. 

Mr. Saldanha: What about Venus? 

Dr. Hwang: The task of creating 
life forms to live in the Venusian at- 
mosphere would be highly difficult, 
though within the range of possibil- 
ity. It would take many years of fur- 
ther work. 

Mr. Saldanha: I see. Tell me, Dr. 
Hwang: can such beings, capable of 
breathing the air of other worlds, be 
said to be "human”? 

Dr. Hwang: It is pointless to bog 
down in semantic hairsplitting, is it 
not? The beings would come of hu- 
man germ plasm. They would merely 

96 



be fitted to their environment, as 
many undoubtedly human beings to- 
day are so fitted by skin coloration 
and other racial characteristics. The 
degree of environmental adjustment 
would be quantitatively much great- 
er, of course. I do not believe it can 
be considered a qualitative difference. 

Mr. Saldanha: You feel that your 
process will provide Earth with colo- 
nies that will remain within our 
economic sphere? 

Dr. Hwang: I am a biologist, Mr. 
Chairman, not an economist. But I 
have the assurance of my government 
that the pantropic process is far more 
likely to yield results than the 
planetary transformation proposal. 
The nations of the Asian ' bloc will 
stand firmly against the squandering 
of United Nations funds in fruitless 
industrial operations. 

— Extract from transcript of 
hearing before the United Na- 
tions Commission on Planetary 
Colonization, 16 March 2032. 

Dane Merrill had had six weeks 
to bone up on history, biology, and 
old-fashioned power politics. He lis- 
tened to the bland voice of Dr. 
Hwang P’ei-fu with perfect knowl- 
edge that behind the biologist’s Ox- 
ford vowels lay an implicit threat to 
planetary peace. The same threat had 
lurked below the rumbling tones of 
Michael Reed the day before. Reed, 
speaking for the industrial combine 
that spearheaded promotion of the 
Terraforming project, actually voiced 
the irrational fears and subliminal 
values of the entire Western world. 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




Westerners feared pantropy. The 
Asiatics mistrusted Western econom- 
ic theorizing, and resented the 
brashness of the Western industrial 
approach. The conflict, Merrill 
thought, was as simple as all that. 

But the solution was not so sim- 
ple. The conflict’s causes, he knew, 
were intertwined with the deepest 
roots of two cultures. 

Merrill brooded. He scoured li- 
braries, making himself an expert on 
all phases of the situation. He 
scanned science-tapes until his weary 
head swam with details on oxygen- 
fixing plants and nucleic acid ma- 
nipulation. And, day after day, he 
watched the hearings stride closer 
and closer to perpetual deadlock. 

The trouble was that the United 
Nations, as it had been reconstituted 
early in the twenty-first century, was 
both powerless and all-powerful si- 
multaneously. It was a world gov- 
ernment presiding over a confedera- 
tion of national states, each with 
some degree of independent sov- 
ereignty within the larger framework 
of the U.N. Nations were subject to 
U.N. decisions — but they still had 
individual motivations for their ac- 
tions, not global ones. 

By the Treaty of 2009 that had 
followed the cataclysmic demise of 
the Soviet Empire, it was illegal for 
any nation to take any unilateral ac- 
tion in space beyond the twenty-mile 
atmospheric zone. The Western 
countries could not go off and terra- 
form Mars without United Na- 
tions approval. The Asiatic coun- 
tries could not plant a pantrop- 



ically adapted colony on the red 
planet without an affirmative vote 
backing them. To do so would be 
to assert a right of national sov- 
ereignty that no longer legally exist- 
ed, The United Nations, which was 
no greater than the sum of all its 
parts, held sovereignty in space. No 
trespassing by individual members 
could be tolerated, and no individual 
member — it was hoped — would dare 
to risk war by so trespassing. 

But a two-thirds General Assembly 
majority was necessary for the ap- 
proval of any kind of space activity. 
And with the nations of the world 
divided into opposing camps, some- 
one would have to back down from 
his position — and do it gracefully, 
without losing face — before coloniza- 
tion of Mars could begin. 

Merrill had conducted a quiet sur- 
vey of United Nations sentiment, in 
the past few weeks. Of the one hun- 
dred five members, a Western Bloc 
of thirty-nine nations stood solidly 
behind the American plan for terra- 
forming, with nine or ten European 
countries fence-sitting but leaning 
toward the West.- Thirty-two nations 
comprised the Asiatic Bloc, support- 
ing China's pantropy plan, with eight 
fellow-travelers among the Arab na- 
tions. 

The remaining dozen-odd coun- 
tries were either determinedly neu- 
tral or else had alternate plans of 
their own, such as the generally dis- 
liked Scandinavian-Indonesian plan 
for building atmospheric domes in- 
stead of self-sufficient colonies. One 

97 



DEADLOCK 




thing was certain: neither bloc had 
anything close to the seventy votes 
necessary for approval. A deadlock 
was apparent. Barring the unthink- 
able — unilateral action in defiance of 
the U.N. — it was quite likely that St. 
Leger's melancholy prediction would 
be borne out, and that the coloniza- 
tion of the planets would indeed 
never begin. 

It had been possible to reach the 
planets for nearly a hundred years. 
Spaceflight had had its first uneasy 
beginnings more than ninety years 
back, during the Nightmare Years, 
with the launching of the first un- 
manned orbital satellites in 1957. 
During the next ten years, the two 
rival global powers — then the United 
States and the Soviet Union — had 
engaged in a technological race that 
had enabled both countries, by 1965, 
to send manned observer rockets to 
the Moon. But the rockets had not 
landed. The problem of lunar sov- 
ereignty was a touchy one, too 
touchy for either of the major pow- 
ers to take risks with. So no landings 
were made, though landings were 
possible. 

Events had hovered in uneasy 
stasis that way for more than twenty 
years, with space travel technically 
feasible but politically impossible. 
Finally, in 1990, under the auspices 
of the revived International Geo- 
physical Year, joint Soviet-American 
lunar landings were made, and short- 
ly afterward the first explorations of 
Mars and Venus. 

Both Mars and Venus proved to 
be without life, and uninhabitable for 

98 



humans — Mars by virtue of its frigid 
climate and thin, unbreathable at- 
mosphere, Venus because of its hot- 
house heat and its shroud of mias- 
mous gases. Any colonization of the 
two planets would of necessity in- 
volve great technological alterations, 
either in the planets or in the colo- 
nists. 

Matters remained at a standstill 
for the next decade, during which 
time the Depression of 2007 and the 
fierce revolutionary struggle in East- 
ern Europe and Asia that followed 
effectively removed the Soviet Union 
from her status as a major power, 
destroyed the Communist regime, 
and brought into being a dozen new 
states carved out of the extinct su- 
per-state. The Republic of China, 
purge'd of its medievalism by seven 
decades of intensive modernization, 
emerged as the dominant nation of 
the Eastern Hemisphere. 

The International Treaty of 2009 
was designed to facilitate the long- 
delayed beginning of space coloniza- 
tion by placing all authority in the 
hands of the United Nations. With- 
in twenty years, a domed city under 
international control had been con- 
_ strutted on the surface of the Moon, 
and a ring of orbital satellites hung 
round the Earth to serve as radio- 
video relay stations, observation tow- 
ers, and halfway houses for space 
travelers. 

The pressure of an expanded 
economy now made the colonization 
of the planets desirable. By 2040 
expeditions had scouted the nine 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




planets without finding life any- 
where. Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, 
Neptune, and Uranus w'ould prob- 
ably never be habitable for human 
beings. Pluto and the moons of the 
giant worlds were possibilities, but 
only in the distant future when 
thermonuclear energy could supplant 
the absent warmth of sunlight. 

Mars and Venus were the only 
possibilities for the immediate fu- 
ture. But it was necessary either to 
build pressurized domes, as had been 
done on Luna, or to set about alter- 
ing the planets themselves. Western 
scientitic energy concentrated on de- 
vising a means for converting Mars 
to a livable world. 

At this point the geneticists of 
Peiping quietly let the world know 
of their experimental techniques for 
altering fertilized human ova to pro- 
duce beings adapted to the hostile 



Martian environment. The world was 
faced with alternate possibilities for 
extending man s dominion. 

The world faltered on the brink 
of indecision. The world could not 
choose between the concepts of alter- 
ing the planets to fit the colonists 
and altering the colonists to fit the 
planets. For six years the propagan- 
dists for both sides did their best, 
while the time of decision-making 
was postponed. Now matters were 
reaching a culmination. A decision 
had to be made. Some sort of a de- 
cision. Any sort of decision. 

Mr. Saldanha: Would you care to 
add your words to the statement just 
made, Mr. Kennedy? 

Mr. Kennedy: As a private citizen, 
l must say l find the concept of pan- 
I ropy a highly repugnant one. As 
Acting Head of the United States 




DEADLOCK 



99 



Delegation to this Commission, I'd 
like to say that we have every confi- 
dence in the accuracy and validity of 
the ideas Air. Reed of the terraform- 
ing people has expressed, and we in- 
tend to back him one hundred per 
cent of the way. 

— Extract from transcript of 
hearing before the United Na- 
tions Commission on Planetary 
Colonization, 16 March 2052. 

The offices of Michael Reed, lob- 
byist extraordinary, were clustered on 
six floors of a shimmering chrome- 
plated skyscraper in Nyack, New 
York, at the extreme northern edge 
of the New York City Metropolitan 

District. Dane Merrill had tried un- 

/ 

successfully to gain an appointment 
with Reed for more than a week; 
finally, in desperation, he used the 
name of Secretary-General St. Leger, 
and was grudgingly given a half hour 
on the morning of March 17th. 

He left his Bayonne apartment at 
half-past eight that morning, took a 
bus to Jersey City, and there boarded 
a nonstop underground tube-car that 
took him. to Nyack in twenty min- 
utes. At ten in the morning, he 
emerged from an elevator on the 
ninety-third floor of a building that 
loomed above Nyack like a cathedral 
above the Normandy plain, and 
found himself confronted by the icy 
glare of an android receptionist. 

Reed had a finger in the brand- 
new android industry too, Merrill re- 
flected. Androids were going to add 
to Earth’s economic problems soon 
enough, once they got into produc- 

100 



tion and started displacing humans 
from jobs. They were part of the 
reason why it was necessary to extend 
Earth’s dominion to the other planets 
before too many more years went by. 

Merrill met the android’s cold 
stare. The things were still novelties; 
Merrill had not seen more than a 
dozen in his life. This one looked 
like a waxen image, and its eyes did 
not quite focus properly. Androids 
were still far from perfect. 

But the voice had an adequately 
frigid receptionist’s tone to it: 
"Whom do you wish to see, sir?” 

"Mr. Reed. I’ve got an appoint- 
ment. The name is Merrill. Dane 
Merrill, from the U.N. Secretariat.” 
He phrased his words with exagger- 
ated care. 

"Have a seat kindly, Mr. Dane 
Merrill. I will check.” 

Merrill sat. The receptionist’s win- 
dow slid closed. A few minutes slip- 
ped by. Then the inner door opened 
and a neatly groomed, affable-look- 
ing man appeared. 

He offered his hand. "How do you 
do, Mr. Merrill. I’m Frank Hark- 
ness, Mr. Reed's personal secretary. 
Suppose you step inside and we can 
do some talking, yes?” 

Merrill followed Harkness through 
the frosted door and into a small of- 
fice to the left. As he entered, Mer- 
rill noticed that the inscription on 
the office door read F. }. Harkness. 

He said, “I had the understanding 
that my appointment was with Mr. 
Reed himself.” 

Harkness smiled ingratiatingly, 
and said: "Of course, of course. But 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




we assumed you were familiar with 
our procedure. Mr. - Reed is an ex- 
tremely busy man, you see. He dele- 
gates certain interviews to members 
of his personal staff, and then at the 
end of each day we report to him 
and he acts on our conclusions. The 
principle of delegation of authority 
is — ” 

Merrill knew all about the prin- 
ciple of delegation of authority. His 
voice took on an annealed edge as he 
said crisply, "I understand. But my 
appointment is with Mr. Reed. If 
Mr. Reed can't see me, I suppose I 
might as well leave.” 

The affability faded from Hark- 
ness’ face. He looked pale. He started 
to sputter something, and Merrill 
picked up his attache case and head- 
ed for the door. He closed it behind 
him without looking back, but he 
was gratified to hear the sound of a 
telephone being hurriedly snatched 
from its cradle. 

Merrill was standing in the recep- 
tionist's cubicle waiting for the 
elevator when Harkness appeared, 
still pale and muttered an apology. 
Beckoning to Merrill, he conducted 
the U.N. man through an inner 
maze of corridors, and deposited him 
in the office of Michael D. Reed him- 
self. 

Reed was an enormous bald pink- 
faced man in his sixties, with mas- 
sive jowls and deep-set, intense 
brown eyes. He held no elective post, 
yet in many ways he wras the most 
influential man in the Western 
Hemisphere. He headed a dozen cor- 

DEADLOCK 



porations which stood to gain heav- 
ily by adoption of a terraforming 
program for Mars. 

Merrill wasted little time on 
formalities. "I'm the personal at- 
tache to Secretary-General St. Leger, 
Mr. Reed. My job, as you know, is 
to expedite the United Nations pro- 
gram of planetary colonization. I'm 
here today to sound you out on the 
possibilities of compromise.” 

"What kind of compromise?" 
Reed rumbled. ”1 don’t see any com- 
promises possible.” 

"You’re staking everything on 
putting terraforming across. But you 
need the votes of seventy out of one 
hundred five countries to approve 
your program. At least thirty-two na- 
tions are dead set against you. You 
don’t have the actual support of 
more than thirty-nine nations. Do 
you really expect to win the votes of 
all but three of the thirty-four neu- 
trals?” 

"Did you come here only to ask 
me that?” 

"I came here to tell you that as 
things stand, neither the Western 
bloc nor the Asiatics can hope to 
command a simple majority in the 
General Assembly, let alone, a two- 
thirds vote. So there has to be a 
deadlock.” 

"I know that. What do you want 
me to do? Call off the hounds and 
let the Chinese have it all?” 

"Not all, Mr. Reed. Just Mars.” 
"Give in, you mean?” 

"You can break the deadlock, Mr. 
Reed. Let the pantropists have Mars. 
Perhaps we can arrange an unwrit- 

101 




ten agreement whereby terraformers 
can have the next planet." 

"There isn’t any next planet. At 
the moment Mars is the only one in 
the solar system we could trans- 
form.” 

Merrill frowned. He hadn’t se- 
riously expected Reed to back down 
voluntarily, but at least he had tried. 
"Perhaps a budget reduction — ” 
"Impossible," Reed said, glower- 
ing. "I told the Commission on 
Monday that my budget figures are 
boned to the minimum now. With 
an appropriation of ninety billion it 
would take us a hundred years to 
terraform Mars.” 

"Better a hundred years than 
never.” 

"No! We won’t give in. We 
won’t allow those orientals to create 
hideous travesties on the human 
form, Merrill. And — " 

"Hold it,” Merrill snapped. "Are 
you more concerned with terraform- 
ing the planets or with preventing 
further research into pantropy?” 

"I consider that an impertinent 
question.” 

"I consider it a relevant one.” 
"My private views are immate- 
rial,” Reed growled. He leaned for- 
ward and ticked his sentences off on 
his thick, stubby fingers. "One: it’s 
economically necessary to establish 
colonies on Mars in the near future 
— within the next fifty or sixty years. 
Two: Terraforming offers the only 
sane way of making Mars valuable 
to us. Three: we need a full budget 
or else we’re hamstrung from the 
start. Four: the Asiatic proposals are 

102 



immoral, obscene, and of no eco- 
nomic value. It’s our duty as human 
beings to prevent any such distortion 
of science as the creation of a pan- 
tropic civilization. Five: I have every 
confidence that in the course of time 
the other nations of the world will 
see the validity of my first four 
points, and will change their present 
opinions.” Reed drew a breath. 
"Therefore, you can tell St. Leger 
that we intend to stand pat. We’re 
not interested in backing down. I 
have an appointment in Washington 
in seventy minutes, Mr. Merrill. 
Will you excuse me?” 

From a phonebooth in the lobby 
of the building, Merrill called the 
private number of Secretary-General 
St. Leger, at U.N. Headquarters. The 
conversation was brief. 

"Reed’s as solid as Gibraltar. He 
says he’s going to play a waiting 
game and hope that the world sees 
the innate righteousness of his cause 
eventually.” 

"All right,” St. Leger said. 
"Scratch that approach. You’d better 
make an appointment with Hwang.” 

Mr. Saldanha: The Chair recog- 
nizes the delegate from the Republic 
of China. 

Mr. Wu: 1 think it is only fair to 
point out , in regard to the foregoing 
discussion, that my country, because 
of its current economic position, con- 
tributes twenty-one per cent of the 
annual United Nations budget. If 
the Western proposal were to be ap- 
proved, we would be compelled to 
supply some thirty-six billion dollars 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




toward, tbe cost of terraforming 
Mars. I’m sure it must be plain to 
all that this would be an intolerable 
imposition. 

— Extract from transcript of 
hearing before the United Na- 
tions Commission on Planetary 
Colonization, 19 March 2052. 

Dr. Hwang P’ei-fu, at thirty-seven, 
was the leading biologist of his 
resurgent country: a slim, slight man 
with the glossy black hair and 
smooth yellow skin of his race, who 
spoke English flawlessly and in gen- 
teel tones. He was witty, urbane, and 
self-effacing. He was also extremely 
obstinate. 

He poured a second Martini for 
Merrill in his rented suite overlook- 
ing the East River, and said quietly, 
"Terraforming is a remarkable scien- 
tific advance. I have studied the pro- 
posals developed by Dr. Halliburton 
and put forth by Mr. Reed. Artifi- 
cial generation of oxygen out of 
tritium ice, development of hardy 
plants capable of carrying on photo- 
synthesis in Martian climates, crea- 
tion of fertile topsoil — yes, all 
extremely ingenious. But how un- 
necessary!” 

The biologist smiled across the 
table at Merrill, who said: "But the 
result will be a planet that you and 
I could visit at will, without the 
nuisance of special equipment or the 
risk of living under a dome.” 

"Ah . . . but would we visit there? 
Have you been to the Moon, Mr. 
Merrill?” 

"I . . . uh . . . no.” 



Neither have I. It’s possible to 
exist on the Moon without the 
nuisance of special equipment, is it 
not, provided one remains under the 
dome. Yet very few people go there 
for short stays, except on business. 
Just so with Mars. The people who 
go there will be going there to stay. 
We need not worry about the con- 
venience of the tourist trade for many 
centuries.” The Chinese sipped his 
drink. "On the other hand, how 
much simpler it is, what a smaller 
output of money and energy it would 
be, to create a race of human beings 
capable of withstanding the rigors 
of Martian life! A brother race, able 
to live on our sister world.” 

"But would these . . . ah . . . pan- 
tropes retain any loyalty for the 
mother world, though? They’d be 
alien.” 

Hwang’s smile widened. "You 
westerners seem to have an irrational 
fear of altering the human shape. 
My good friend, we will not be 
creating monsters. We will be adapt- 
ing human physiques, not human 
brains.” 

"The form might govern the per- 
sonality.” 

Hwang sighed. "Such pantropic 
forms as have been created experi- 
mentally in our laboratories show no 
marked psychological deviation from 
expected norms of behavior. These 
are laboratory animals, of course; we 
have done no actual experimentation 
with human ova.” 

Merrill wondered how seriously to 
take that assertion. He let it go by. 
"Is it necessary to have Mars imme- 



deadlock 



103 




diately, Dr. Hwang? Couldn’t your 
people step down, in the interests of 
global harmony? Allow the West to 
terraform Mars, and continue your 
pantropy work until you were cap- 
able of creating a race to live on 
some other world?” 

Hwang brushed the suggestion off 
as rapidly as Reed had. He shrug- 
ged gently and said, "That would 
mean we should be contributing 
many billions of dollars to a project 
we cannot believe in, Mr. Merrill. 
My country is but newly emerged 
from abject poverty. I hardly see 
how we could countenance such 
squandering. Would you care for 
some tea, Mr. Merrill?” 

Merrill left the Chinese scientist’s 
headquarters half an hour later, 
realizing he had made no headway 
whatever. Reed had blustered and 
Hwang had spoken in velvety tones, 
but each was equally immovable. 
The Chinese refused to waste mopey 
on Terraforming; Reed and his 
group regarded pantropy as somehow 
blasphemous. 

At least, those were the reasons 
offered. Behind that lay the eco- 
nomic reasons. American industry 
needed the mighty financial boost 
that adoption of terraforming would 
provide. Chinese science craved the 
prestige that would accrue from ap- 
proval of its techniques — and Chi- 
nese scientific prestige was a matter 
of incalculable importance to them. 

No one would yield. No one 
would step aside. It was infuriating, 
Merrill thought, to be so close to the 
interplanetary era and to hang back, 

104 



a planet caught up in petty politick- 
ing and vengeful selfishness. Merrill 
reported back to St. Leger and re- 
turned to his home in a mood of 
bleak misanthropy. 

The Commission’s hearings would 
shortly be at their end. Resolutions 
would be thrown on the floor of the 
General Assembly. There was only 
one foreseeable result. 

Deadlock. 

UNITED NATIONS, New York, 
March 26 — A two-pronged attempt 
to embark on the colonization of 
Mars ended in another East-West 
stalemate at the General Assembly 
today. A proposition advanced by 
the United States that would have- 
authorized the appropriation of $180 
billion in United Nations funds for 
the purpose of making the planet 
Mars livable for human beings went 
down to defeat by a vote of 49-43, 
with thirteen abstentions. Seventy 
votes were needed for approval. 

Two hours later, a parallel Chi- 
nese program that would have 
granted $1 10,300,000,000 for crea- 
tion of a race of people capable of 
withstanding present conditions on 
Mars met even greater disapproval. 
It was turned back by a vote of 52- 
41, twelve members abstaining. 

Immediately after the session, rep- 
resenlatives of several uncommitted 
nations declared they would sponsor 
various compromise bills in the As- 
sembly tomorrow in hopes of ending 
the deadlock. 

— The New York Times & 
Tribune, March 27, 2052 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




UNITED NATIONS, New York, 
March 27 — East and I Vest joined 
forces today to defeat a Danish- 
sponsored compromise measure 
which would have authorized the 
construction of Moon-type habita- 
tion domes on Mars. 

The proposal, termed a "shocking 
evasion" by United States Delegate 
Charles Kennedy and a "deplorable 
mistake" by Chinese representative 
Wu Hsien-fu, sidestepped the con- 
troversial issues of terraforming and 
pantropy completely. It gathered 
only eleven supporters, with eighty- 
eight nations in opposition and sev- 
en abstaining from the ballot. 

Shortly after the voting, United 
Nations Secretary General Hilaire 
St. Leger declared he was "hopeful" 
that the deadlock would be resolved, 
but added that both factions seemed 
unwilling to consider any changes in 
their positions, and that he had no 
immediate suggestions that might 
alleviate the crisis. 

— The New York' Times & 
Tribune, March 28, 2052 

Dane Merrill was trying to relax. 
He was not succeeding. His mind 
kept going back again and again to 
the General Assembly action of the 
past few days, and to St. Leger’s 
mournful little press statement. 

Nothing to alleviate the crisis. 
Deadlock. Merrill brooded bitterly. 
Two proud, stubborn, equally justi- 
fied factions refused to relax their 
stands, and, barring sudden and un- 
likely collusion on the part of the 
neutral nations in favor of one plan 



or the other, the deadlock could, 
ridiculously enough, endure for all 
eternity. Or at least until that remote 
age when Mankind was no longer 
motivated by such transient things as 
national pride or economic expe- 
diency. 

The night the Danish patchwork 
compromise received its resounding 
thumping in the Assembly, Ellen 
Merrill had invited a neighborhood 
couple up for drinks and an eve- 
ning s company. Ellen had chosen 
with her customary shrewdness; the 
guests were conversational vacuums, 
amiable and amusing people who 
could not pursue a line of thought 
consecutively for more than two sen- 
tences, and whose idea of a good 
evening’s entertainment was a drink 
or two and an exciting session of 
rotowheel or lunar rummy. 

Ellen had picked her guests with 
adroit care; the topic of the space 
deadlock did not arise once during 
the evening. But Dane Merrill’s 
forehead remained furrowed. He 
barely touched his drink; he lost con- 
sistently at rotowheel, to the great 
delight of the guests. He said little. 

When they finally were alone, 
shortly before midnight, he turned 
sharply on his wife. "Why did you 
invite those people here tonight?” 

"Why . . . why — ’’ Ellen had no 
quick answer. "They’ve always had 
a good time here, and I thought you 
liked them! They are pleasant peo- 
ple, after all, and — ” 

"Pleasant! Sure, they’re pleasant! 
Do you think that pleasant man and 
his pleasant wife ever had a thought 

105 



DEADLOCK 




in their pleasant lives? Do you think 
they as much as know about the 
idiocy going on in the Assembly 
these days? Do — ” 

Ellen took his hand soothingly. 
"Do you think everyone worries 
about outer space as much as you 



to be a star, hung balefully out there. 
Mars. The red planet seemed to be 
mocking him. "Sure,” he said. 
"Someone will give in. It may take 
only five hundred years, but someone 
will give in!" 

He shook his head. It was irra- 




do? They feel the same way I do, 
Dane. Everything’s going to turn 
out all right, eventually. This stale- 
mate can’t last forever. Someone will 
give in.” 

"Sure,” he said bitterly. He yank- 
ed his hand back, walked to the 
terrace, stared out at the night sky. 
A glowing coppery-red dot, too big 

106 



tional, he knew, and almost para- 
noid, in a way, to take the interna- 
tional situation so much to heart. It 
was not his fault, after all, that na- 
tions were stubborn. He had tried. 
He had done his best. The sane, in- 
telligent reaction now would be a 
futile shrug — not this bitter self- 
churning anger. 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




But yet, Merrill thought, anger 
was the only honest reaction. Per- 
haps it was not his fault; still, he 
felt a deep sense of responsibility. 
The deadlock had to be broken. He 
hardly cared which side won; the 
contenders seemed of equal merit to 
him, and he had no patriotic leanings 
toward the Western side. Justice was 
his only concern. Along with St. 
Leger, he was an Earthman first and 
foremost, not an American or a man 
of the Western Hemisphere. That 
kind of parochial thinking had caus- 
ed all the harm thus far. 

He turned away from the terrace 
and said to his wife, "There has to 
be an answer, Ellen. Somewhere. 
And I can’t relax until that answer’s 
been found. I'm sorry, darling.” 

"You don’t have to apologize, 
Dane. Just . . . just try to take things 
more casually. You’re killing your- 
self with worry over a situation you 
can’t help.” 

"I know. Dammit, I wish there 
were some way I could help it,” he 
said. 

The next morning, Merrill stop- 
ped off at St. Leger’s office. He found 
the plump Secretary-General in a 
dark mood. 

"I spent last night with represen- 
tatives from five of the neutral 
countries,” St. Leger said. "Denmark, 
Afghanistan, Burma, France, and 
Hungary. We tried to work out some 
kind of compromise measure, Dane. 
Something to toss out on the floor 
when the session opened today.” 

"Get anywhere?" 



"Not even to ... ah ... first 
base,” St. Leger said with a melan- 
choly attempt at a grin. "There just 
isn t any workable compromise. 
Nadas, the Hungarian, wanted to 
know if it was possible to terraform 
half of Mars and let the Chinese 
seed the other half with pantropes. 
Imagine that! I suppose he was fig- 
uring on building a wall between 
the Martian hemispheres to keep the 
atmospheres from mixing, or some- 
thing.” 

Merrill did not chuckle. "There 
aren’t any compromises. It’s a damn- 
ably black-and-white situation.” 
"Yes. Either one side or the other 
has to give in, or everybody 
loses.” 

"You’d think they’d see that!” 
"They do,” St. Leger replied. 
"We aren’t dealing with blind na- 
tionalistic fanatics, Dane. But the 
people of the Western world have 
some kind of emotional horror of the 
whole business of pantropy, while 
the Easterners can’t see the sense of 
throwing away what they consider a 
perfectly good process, in favor of. 
one that’s not only more expensive 
but — in their eyes — less sensible. So 
nobody’s giving an inch. And you 
know what I’m afraid of, of course.” 
"Unilateral action? But that’s im- 
possible.” 

"Not impossible, Dane. Just un- 
desirable. Suppose the Asiatics get 
fed up with legislative shilly-shally- 
ing, and send a team off to Mars to 
start raising pantropes? Or suppose 
the West shrugs its shoulders and 
decides to terraform Mars out of its 



deadlock 



107 




own pocket, for the benefit of West- 
ern private enterprise?” 

"We’d have war.” 

"Of course we would. The Night- 
mare Years are over, thank God, but 
they’re not necessarily over forever. 
We’ve had relative peace and har- 
mony on this planet for less than 
fifty years. That isn’t long enough 
for the condition to become habitual. 
If this logjam in the Assembly isn’t 
broken soon, we might just see some- 
one taking unilateral action. And 
then it’ll be the old business of the 
H-bombs again, all the childish fist- 
waving lunacy we thought we buried 
in 2009.” 

Merrill stared at the wine-colored 
carpeted floor of St. Leger’s office. 
"No compromise in sight. And 
neither side willing to back down. 
What happens?” 

"I wish I knew. Go have a talk 
with Kennedy and Wu, Dane. I 
don’t dare; they’re too suspicious of 
me. But sound them out. Find out 
how they’re reacting to the stalemate. 
Then report back to me as soon as 
you can.” 

"Right.” 

The last thing Merrill saw as he 
left his superior’s office was St. Leg- 
er’s plump hand reaching for the 
brandy bottle that was always kept 
available in a desk compartment. 
Lord help us all, Merrill thought. 
Before this is over we’ll all be living 
on tranquilizers and hooch! 

WASHINGTON, D. C., March 
29 (AAP ) — Charles Kennedy, head 
American delegate to the United Na- 

108 



lions, spent the morning at the 
White House today, holding his 
third conference with President 
Brewster in the past ten days. Also 
present were Dr. Manly Halliburton 
of Chicago and Michael D. Reed of 
New York, leading proponents of 
the terraforming project for Mars. 

Neither the President nor Air. 
Kennedy had any statements to make 
after the conference. Air. Reed com- 
mented, "I have received continued 
assurance of the government’ s faith 
in the terraforming concept.” 

— The New York Times 
Tribune, March 30, 2052. 

At fifty-seven, Charles Kennedy 
had already had a distinguished ca- 
reer, with at least twenty more years 
of public service ahead of him. He 
was a tall man, four inches above 
Dane Merrill’s stocky six-one, and 
he made the most of his unusual 
height: he dominated. Kennedy had 
lean, aristocratic features, a long 
tapering nose, firm lips. His eye- 
brows were incongruously dark and 
bushy beneath his prematurely whit- 
ened hair. 

He smiled graciously at Dane 
Merrill from behind the imposing 
brown bulk of his uncluttered ma- 
hogany desk and said, "L appreciate 
your position, Merrill. But do you 
really appreciate ours?” 

"I’m aware that you’re backed way 
out on a limb, Mr. Kennedy, if 
that’s what you mean.” 

"I do. And you now propose that 
we saw that limb off behind us, in 
the name of statesmanship.” 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




"In the name of peace,” Merrill 
said. 

Kennedy stirred restlessly and 
fugged at his mane of white hair. 
"There are many intangible factors 
involved in this, you see. In the past 
six months we’ve spent a few hun- 
dred million of our own money to 
determine the feel of popular opin- 
ion in this hemisphere. And most 
people are shocked to the point of 
disgust by the entire idea of pan- 
tropy.” 

"Most people are shocked by any 
radically new idea,” Merrill re- 
marked. 

"Granted. But, my dear Merrill, 
we happen to live in an elective de- 
mocracy. Do you know what would 
happen if I were to reverse our cur- 
rent stand and vote in favor of pan- 
tropy ?” 

"I could guess. You and the 
President and the rest of the Amer- 
ican government might be out of 
jobs after this fall’s election.” 

Kennedy nodded. "There would 
be an overwhelming reaction against 
us. I’m not a petty man, Merrill, and 
the President certainly is not. The 
fact that this is an election year and 
we might see a change in administra- 
tion is emphatically not a governing 
factor in our behavior. But we feel 
that our administration is a good 
one. We feel it would be a public 
disservice to act in such a way that 
the people would lose faith in us.” 

"The election is in November,” 
Merrill said. "You don’t want to 
jeopardize yourselves before then. 
But assuming the President is re- 

DEADLOCK 



elected, what do you think of the 
possibilities of a strategic withdrawal 
from the current Western position 
next year? I mean, letting the dead- 
lock prevail until after the election, 
and then — ” 

". . . Backing down? Now you 
raise another difficulty, Merrill. We 
have faith in our own project. We 
don’t see why we should be called 
on for total surrender. We feel the 
Asiatics should be the ones to with- 
draw.” 

Merrill moistened his lips. "The 
Asiatics feel the same way, of 
course, about your ideas. It’s too bad 
there isn’t some middle way. For ex- 
ample, letting the Chinese create 
pantropes for Mars, and turning 
Venus over to the West for terra- 
forming work.” 

"I’ve heard that proposal before,” 
Kennedy said smoothly. "But it has 
two glaring flaws. One is that this 
country could never condone the 
spending of United Nations money 
for pantropy, under any circum- 
stances. The other is that it might 
take us from fifteen years to a cen- 
tury to develop a technique for 
terraforming Venus. The task is 
tremendously more complex than 
handling Mars, you understand. 
Formaldehyde — ’ ’ 

"Very well,” Merrill sighed. He 
had fought another bout of diplo- 
matic fencing, and it had ended in 
a standstill. "The status remains quo, 
is that it?” 

"I'm afraid so. I’d love to see a 
solution reached, Merrill — believe 
me. But no compromise seems to ex- 

109 




ist, and we simply refuse to capitu- 
late totally. It would be suicidally 
foolish of us to do so.” 

"I suppose we’ll have to leave it 
at that,” Merrill said quietly. "Good 
day, Mr. Kennedy. And thank you 
for your time.” 

Merrill rose and left. He had the 
ominous feeling that he was simply 
exhausting one avenue after another, 
and that ultimately he would have 
to shrug his shoulders and let the 
deadlock prevail. 

In the corridor outside the offices 
of the American delegation, Merrill 
took out a notepad and scrawled a 
memo to St. Leger: 

Kennedy adamant. Afraid to back 
down. Implies the possibility of 
eventual unilateral action to break 
deadlock. I’m going to see Wu now. 
Prognosis not encouraging. 

Merrill. 

He folded the note, applying 
pressure to seal it, and collared an 
interoffice courier busily making the 
rounds. 

"Here, boy. Take this over to Mr. 
St. Leger’s office, will you? Thanks.” 

"Certainly, Mr. Merrill. Of 
course.” 

Wu Hsien-fu, ranking member of 
the Chinese United Nations delega- 
tion, spoke English with the same 
perfection as Dr. Hwang, but rather 
than Oxford accents Wu employed 
a clipped, surprisingly American in- 
flection. He was in his late sixties, 
but he gave the outward appearance 
of a man twenty years younger. 

He said crisply, "Compromise is 

110 



flatly out of the question, Mr. Mer- 
rill. But why, may I ask, should we 
be the ones to give ground?” 
"Because,” Merrill said in a weary 
voice, "the Western bloc refuses. It’s 
as simple as all that. On behalf of 
Mr. St. Leger, I’m suggesting that 
the Asian nations nobly sacrifice 
their position in the interest of world 
peace.” 

Wu chuckled. "You make it sound 
noble indeed. But such a concession 
is unthinkable. The entire Eastern 
world looks to China for leadership, 
Mr. Merrill. How can we disappoint 
nearly five billion people by aban- 
doning what we believe is right?” 
"It’s an opportunity to make a 
moral gesture. You’ll be demonstrat- 
ing the greater flexibility of the 
Orient, the ability to retreat from 
an untenable position.” 

"I don’t see it that way,” Wu re- 
plied.' "I see it as an immense loss 
of face. I see it as an act of coward- 
ice. I'm sorry, Mr. Merrill. We can- 
not alter our position.” 

Merrill fidgeted. "The Western 
nations are taking the same stand. 
What nobody seems to realize is that 
this deadlock may last forever — and 
then no one will win.” 

Wu shrugged and allowed a faint 
smile to cross his face. "Institutions 
come and go. Who would have im- 
agined, sixty years ago, that the 
Soviet Union would crumple and dis- 
appear? Who could have conceived, 
three hundred years ago, that the 
scattered American colonies of Great 
Britain would unite into a dominant 
nation ? We of China are accustomed 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




to taking the long view of events. 
We can wait, in other words, for the 
climate of opinion to change. We 
prefer that attitude to one of coward- 
ly concession."' 

Which meant, Merrill thought, 
either that China was counting on 
the eventual dissolution of the Unit- 
ed Nations, or on taking some direct 
action herself if matters^ remained in 
stasis. Neither was a cheering 
thought. 

He said aloud, "What I had in 
mind was not a complete backdown, 
Mr. Wu. Perhaps, instead, Mars 
could be turned over to the terra- 
formers for immediate change, while 
you could set your sights on pan- 
tropy for Venus.” 

Wu closed his eyes. "I have dis- 
cussed this matter with Dr. Hwang 
and other biologists of our country. 
The opinion — as I believe you know 
already — is that pantropy for Venus 
is unfeasible at the present. It would 
take a great deal of effort — unneces- 
sary effort, may I add. No, Mr. Mer- 
rill. We will not abandon Mars to 
the West. We will simply wait and 
see.” 

Merrill left Wu’s office in a bleak 
mood of resigned despair. He had 
exhausted his last recourse. He for- 
warded a note to St. Leger that read 
simply, W y u won’t budge an inch. 
Not impressed by any arguments. 
Where do we go from here? 

Merrill knew where he personally 
was going. He took an underground 
tube-car to Jersey City, transferred 
for the Bayonne bus, and rode mood- 
ily home. It was a bright day, pre- 



maturely springlike, but the soft blue 
of the sky and the sight of ripening 
yellow buds on the trees did not af- 
fect Merrill’s mood. 

He downed two aspirins and a 
double Martini without feeling 
much better about things. He had 
spent a hard day, dealing with im- 
movable objects — and, he admitted 
to himself darkly, he was a good deal 
less than an irresistible force him- 
self. 

A resolution tabling further con- 
sideration of planetary colonization 
was approved today by the United 
Nations General Assembly. A vote 
of 99-0, with four Scandinavian 
countries and two Middle East na- 
tions abstaining, removed the trou- 
blesome question of Martian coloniz- 
ation from this session’s agenda. A 
two-thirds majority will now be 
necessary to reopen discussion this 
year. The tabling resolution was 
sponsored jointly by Chile and 
Japan s 

Dr. Getulio Saldanha, Brazilian 
delegate who conducted the recent 
U.N. hearings on the space question, 
termed the tabling "unavoidable but 
tragic.” (Full text of Dr. Saldanha’s 
statement on P.4.j 

United Nations Secretary-General 
Hilaire St. Leger commented, "This 
action does not mean the end of 
hopes for eventual colonization of 
Mars. It simply provides time for 
mature reconsideration of present 
opinions. I have every confidence 
that we will reach a satisfactory con- 
clusion to the situation when the 



DEADLOCK 



111 




General Assembly re-examines it in 
next year’s session." 

— The New York Times & 

Tribune, April 11, 2052. 

A month slipped by. April turned 
into .green May, and summer, as it 
so often does, descended premature- 
ly on New York; days of clammy, 
humid weather were the result. The 
General Assembly focused its atten- 
tion on the problems created by the 
recently-disclosed results of the 2050 
global census. Dane Merrill returned 
to his liaison post in the office of 
Secretary-General St. Leger, and con- 
centrated chiefly on the task of mol- 
lifying U.N. delegates who were 
irritated by the complexities of life 
in New York. 

But at the back of his mind was 
the nagging business of the Martian 
colonization. He saw the press re- 
leases in the papers, from time to 
time — research into terraforming and 
pantropy was still continuing, sup- 
ported by national funds exclusively. 
The United States was contributing 
a billion a year for terraforming re- 
search; the Chinese, nearly as much 
for their geneticists. 

But the budgets of individual 
countries were no longer designed to 
handle such large expenses. The 
global unification of the early years 
of the twenty-first Century had seen 
to that; major expenses came from 
the United Nations treasury, to 
which all nations contributed pro- 
portionately. To Merrill, this resurg- 
ence of national budgetary sovereign- 
ty was an ominous sign. It was a re- 

112 



gression to the fierce nationalism of 
the Nineteenth and Twentieth Cen- 
turies. He feared that one regression 
might lead to another, and ultimate- 
ly to the most dreaded regression of 
all — war. 

The public in general began to 
forget the entire dispute. Mars, after 
all, was remote and unimportant to 
the public, and, in any event, the 
actual colonization was something 
that concerned the next generation 
more immediately than this one. 
Apathy prevailed. Merrill himself, 
though never did he lose sight of 
the urgent need for some resolution 
to the dilemma, no longer could af- 
ford to dwell on the problem with 
the same single-minded intensity he 
had displayed in February and 
March. It became a continuing but 
subliminal source of worry for him, 
like a mild toothache. 

He was, therefore, hardly think- 
ing about the problem at all when 
he stumbled over the solution. 

It was early in June. The General 
Assembly, virtually through with its 
agenda, was planning to adjourn in 
a few days. The Security Council had 
one minor item left on its schedule, 
and then it, too, would adjourn. 

Dane Merrill was busily making 
plans for his vacation. He and Ellen 
would fly to Yucatan for a month, 
they had decided. There, among the 
unspoiled remnants of a dead civiliz- 
ation, it would be possible for them 
to relax and forget some of the cares 
of a living one. Merrill had one new 
problem to consider: Secretary-jGen- 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




eral St. Leger was making noises 
about retiring, again. 

St. Leger's term had another 
year to run, and he was certain of 
re-election if he wanted it; but St. 
Leger, it seemed, had had enough of 
diplomacy. At the age of sixty-seven, 
he longed for his native Quebec. 

Which left Merrill on the spot. 
He was the logical choice as St. Leg- 
er’s successor; for the last eight years 
he had worked hand in glove with 
the older man, and he was trusted 
by all. But, Merrill knew, some time 
in the near future the colonization 
question would have to be resolved, 
and the responsibility would be his 
if he happened to be in office at the 
time. Merrill had never shirked re- 
sponsibility, but this was one situa- 
tion that threatened to become 
explosive. He was a modest man: he 
seriously doubted that he would have 
the inner resources necessary to pre- 
vent the war that might so easily 
develop over the terraforming-ver- 
sus-pantropy issue. But he wondered 
whether anyone else, St. Leger in- 
cluded, could deal with such a situa- 
tion if it arose. 

In any event, that still lay in the 
future. Now, in a few days, he would 
be on vacation. 

He would be able to relax. 

That night, three days before the 
Assembly was due to adjourn, the 
Merrills were engaged in what was 
for them a most unusual pastime. 
They were watching the video set. 
He and Ellen had grown tired of 
reading, tired of listening to music 
tapes, tired of all the diversions of 



intelligent people. The strain of the 
past few months had sapped the vi- 
tality from them. Almost in despera- 
tion, they flicked on the video, hop- 
ing for relaxation. 

The screen brightened. An unctu- 
ous, oily voice said, "Very well, Mr. 
Pulaski. You’ve hit the fifty thou- 
sand dollar bracket, now. The choice 
is yours — will you retire with what 
you’ve got, or will you take a shot at 
a hundred thousand? Double or 
nothing, Mr. Pulaski. What do you 
say?" 

"Oh, dear,” Ellen exclaimed. "It’s 
a quiz show ! We can find something 
more interesting than — ” 

"No,” Merrill interrupted in an 
odd voice. "Leave it.” 

Ellen shrugged. "If you say so, 
Dane.” 

The camera centered on an insig- 
nificant man in a brown checked 
suit — a small, puffy-faced man with 
watery gray eyes and a few strands 
of hair plastered to his scalp. The 
man in the screen seemed frozen in 
decision. Then he said, "I’ve done 
O.K. so far. I think I’ll risk it.” 
Pandemonium burst loose in the 
studio audience. The announcer bel- 
lowed raucously: "He’s going to do 
it! Ladies and gentlemen, he’s going 
for double or nothing ! T here’s a man 
with faith in his intellectual abilities, 
all right! Will ysu re-enter the iso- 
lation booth, Mr. Pulaski?” 

"Dane, please. Do we really need 
to watch — ” 

"One minute, Ellen.” 

"For one hundred thousand dol- 
lars, now,” said the announcer in 



DEADLOCK 



113 




vibrant tones. "You have thirty sec- 
onds to consider your reply. For one 
hundred thousand dollars, Mr. Pu- 
laski: can you name the first eight 
rulers of the Carolingian Dynasty of 
France?" 

"Uh . . . Pepin the Short . . . then 
Charlemagne ... ah, let’s see . . . 
Louis I . . . wait a second, now, after 
him comes Charles I — ” 

With an abrupt motion Merrill 
jabbed down on the remote-control 
switch of the video, and the intent 
face of Mr. Pulaski vanished as the 
screen went dead. Ellen glanced up 
in surprise. 

"First you want to watch it, then 
you shut it off at the most interesting 
moment ! Dane, there are times when 
I just don't understand- — ” 

"I’ve got the answfer,” he broke 
in. He felt a great inward calm. If 
only they would listen to him, 
now! 

"You know the names of those 
kings?” 

"I don’t mean that. I’ve got the 
answer! Where’s the phone? I've got 
to call St. Leger right away:” 

". . . Turning to the subject of 
United Nations news, the topic of 
planetary colonization, considered a 
dead issue for this session since the 
tabling motion on the eleventh of 
April, is apparently very much alive 
again. A closed committee meeting 
to discuss new proposals has been 
called by Secretary-General St. Leger 
for tomorrow afternoon. Representa- 
tives of East and West will be pres- 
ent at the meeting, but no details 

114 



were forthcoming on the nature of 
the new proposals.” 

— video newscast, 6:11 p.m. 
June 12, 2052. 

There were seven men in the 
small, simply-furnished private office 
that Secretary -General St. Leger re- 
served for private top-level confer- 
ences of this sort. St. Leger and Dane 
Merrill sat behind a low table, fac- 
ing the others. In front of them and 
to their left sat Wu, the chief Chi- 
nese delegate to the U.N.,. and 
Hwang, the head of the pantropy 
project. At the other side of the room 
sat U.N. Delegate Kennedy of the 
United States, Michael Reed, and a 
short, vigorous-looking man who was 
Dr. Manly Halliburton, chief of op- 
erations of the terraforming project. 

It was a warm, almost murky mid- 
June day. The room’s two air condi- 
tioners purred steadily, but without ' 
any perceptible effect. A kind of- 
fense humidity prevailed in the 
room. 

St. Leger, looking tired, rumpled, 
and disheveled, said, "Gentlemen, 
I’ve called you all together for one 
final attempt at cracking the dead- 
lock that now exists. Several days 
ago, my colleague here, Mr. Merrill, 
whom I believe you all know, came 
to me with a set of new and intrigu- 
ing propositions for settling the 
crisis. I gave Mr. Merrill’s ideas care- 
ful study, and have found that there 
is validity in them.” St. Leger sighed 
heavily. "In order to save time, gen<- 
tlemen, and to insure absolute clarity 
of communication, I intend to relin- 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTIOJf 




quish the chair of this meeting to 
Mr. Merrill. Are there any objections 
to my doing this? Good. Mr. Mer- 
rill, you are now presiding.” 

St. Leger was obviously relieved 
at the opportunity to give his three 
hundred pounds of bone and blubber 
some rest. He sank back into his chair 
and pointedly rolled it a foot back- 
ward from the table. Merrill nodded. 
He was in charge of the meeting. 
He was no longer the loyal, efficient, 
and anonymous Secretariat staffman. 
He was in charge. 

He scanned the faces — the two 
enigmatic yellow ones, the three 
tense, anticipatory white ones. He 
moistened his lips. He said, "Gentle- 
men, before we get down to specifics, 
I'd like to establish one general point 
of fact. We of the United Nations, 
are we not, are directly responsible 
to the peoples of the world. If we 
act in a manner obviously not in the 
best interests of humanity, we will 
be replaced by others who have the 
popular - interests more at heart. Is 
there anyone here who would care 
to deny this? Mr. Kennedy, you 
were the one who made this point 
quite clear to me at our little confer- 
ence earlier this spring.” 

No one spoke. All five were 
fidgeting uncomfortably, wondering 
what Merrill had in store for them. 
Merrill went on: "We will consider 
that point established. Very well: the 
next point I wish to make is that it 
is in the best interests of humanity 
to extend our civilization to other 
Worlds. I don’t think there’s any 
need to demonstrate that particular 

deadlock 




115 




argument with a set of syllogisms. 

"To continue — we must establish 
colonies on other worlds. But if the 
present crisis continues we will never 
succeed. Is this acting in the public 
interest? Of course not! The con- 
tending factions in this dispute are 
acting magnificently in the service of 
their own national interests — but are 
doing a disservice to the more im- 
portant cause of Earth. Therefore, 
we must in all conscience find some 
way to break the deadlock that now 
prevails. I have several suggestions, 
which Mr. St. Leger has approved.” 

"Let’s hear them,” Michael Reed 
grumbled. "Get to the point, will 
you?” 

Merrill restrained the impulse to 
glare at the paunchy industrialist. 
"All right. Point One; we must 
colonize Mars immediately. And the 
only method of colonization that we 
can consider. I’m afraid, is terraform- 
ing.” 

The flat, dogmatic statement pro- 
duced the expected result. Hwang’s 
jaw drooped in astonishment, while 
Wu went virtually livid with shock. 
On the other side of the room, Ken- 
nedy looked utterly startled, Halli- 
burton was blinking in disbelief, and 
Reed, recovering from his amaze- 
ment, was beaming contentedly. 

Then the stasis broke. Wu was on 
his feet, exclaiming vehemently but 
with massive self-control, "I must 
ask for an explanation of this state- 
ment, Mr. Merrill ! What you have 
said is a slap in the face of the entire 
Eastern world. Is this your idea of 

116 



compromise? To declare categorically 
that your particular nation's method 
must be used?” 

Merrill said tiredly, "Please sit 
down, Mr. Wu. No insult to the East 
is intended, and I’ll explain as soon 
as you’ll let me. My statement wasn’t 
an expression of my alleged pro- 
Western sympathies. I’m simply pro- 
Earth, Mr. Wu. We of the Secretar- 
iat have forced ourselves to place our 
feelings above individual national 
viewpoints, difficult though that 
sometimes is.” 

"May we have your explanation, 
then?” Wu said, smoldering. "But 
I warn you now that we have no in- 
tention of surrendering in this man- 
ner.” 

"If you wouldn’t think of it as a 
battle,” said Merrill, "you wouldn’t 
have to fear surrender. But the ex- 
planation is quite simple. Pantropy is 
a great biological achievement — but 
it would be political suicide for us 
to sponsor it on Mars. Terraforming 
is the only workable answer for that 
planet.” 

"I fail to see — ” 

"The reason,” Merrill steam- 
rollered. on, "is this. We are behold- 
en to the peoples of the world for 
our mandate to govern them and to 
spend their money. This is an over- 
crowded planet, Mr. Wu. According 
to the 2050 census, Earth’s popula- 
tion is almost nine and a quarter 
billion. And though we’re making 
progress on population control, fi- 
nally, we’re still going to be faced 
with problems of congestion and 
overcrowding for centuries to come. 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




Particularly, Mr. Wu, in the Eastern 
half of the world. 

"Very well. We are about to take 
a giant step into space. We are about 
to put human life on Mars. But sup- 
pose we put pantropic life there, Mr. 
Wu? A great biological achievement 
— but does that make Mars accessible 
to human pioneers? Certainly not. It 
closes Mars forever to humanity ! 
What we need now, Mr. Wu, is a 
world up there that will capture the 
imagination of the nine billion peo- 
ple of Earth. A world that the com- 
mon 'man can see justification for 
building. A world that offers oppor- 
tunity for the pioneer, and a world 
that offers hope for relief from over- 
crowding. Not a world populated by 
what would essentially be an alien 
species of our own creation. 

"We’ve overlooked this all along, 
on both sides — that the average man 
pays the bill, and calls the tune. 
What I’m saying now, gentlemen, is 
a reflection of the grim realities of 
political life. Up till now we’ve been 
debating this on a- pretty abstract 
plane. It’s time to come down to the 
ground and face the fact that if we 
use pantropy to settle Mars, we’re 
going to lose the sympathy and sup- 
port of the people of Earth. And 
your people, Mr. Wu, are going to 
be the first to yell — because they 
don’t give a damn about scientific 
prestige, not down there on the dirt 
level; they just want a place for 
overflow people. 

"Not for themselves, by the way 
—by and large, 99-9% of the people 
of Earth would rather do almost any- 

deadlock 



thing than have to go off and colo- 
nize a terraformed Mars. But the 
psychological fact remains that they 
would think pioneering was a good 
thing— for someone else. They would 
back us. Spending money to terra- 
form Mars would appeal to everyone. 
Pantropy is subtler; it won’t go 
over.” 

"So,” Wu said slowly, "you ask 
us to drop our proposal in the name 
of sheer realpolitik?” 

"Bluntly, yes,” Merrill said. "The 
time has come to talk bluntly. We 
have to win popular support if we 
want to stay in office long enough 
to get a space program going. We’ll 
never win support if we vote pan- 
tropy for Mars. It has to be terra- 
forming.” 

"The dilemma has two prongs,” 
Wu said. "I grant that terraforming 
is more likely to capture the popular 
imagination than pantropy. But we 
have backed our position strongly. 
How can we abandon it now? It 
seems that we are lost no matter 
which way we turn.” 

Merrill shook his head. "You 
don’t have to abandon your position. 
The last thing I’d like to happen is 
the scrapping of pantropy. You see, 
Mr. Wu, it’s my private feeling that 
pantropy is potentially a much more 
important scientific development 
than terraforming.” 

The sudden change of expression 
on the faces of the three Westerners 
was amusing. For the past five min- 
utes they had sat complacently, smug 
and contented because of Merrill’s 

117 




unexpected firm stand for terraform- 
ing. But now he had yanked the rug 
out from under them. They looked 
stunned. 

"Would you mind explaining that 
statement, Mr. Merrill?” Reed de- 
manded loudly. 

"Certainly. Terraforming is a 
process of limited value, useful only 
when a world is basically similar to 
Earth to begin with. You can alter 
Mars’ climate and atmosphere— but 
could you ever change Jupiter's 
gravity or cope with Mercury’s ex- 
tremes of temperature? I’m afraid 
not.” 

"Neither can Hwang and his pan- 
tropists create beings who can stand 
up to such conditions,” Halliburton 
snapped. 

"Not yet," Merrill said. "But the 
concept of pantropy is an open-ended 
one. It’s still new, but it has great 
potential. Once you can make simple 
genetic changes, you can go on to 
learn how to make more complicated 
ones. It’s going to be easier to rede- 
sign human beings than to redesign 
really non-Earthlike planets. So we 
must continue pantropy research, and 
back it with cash. Some day, we’ll be 
traveling to the stars. We’ll find 
planets out there, and they may not 
be Earthlike planets. Pantropy will 
be our only help then.” 

"All very heartwarming,” Wu said 
sourly. "But this does not solve the 
problem of immediate saving of face. 
I cannot explain to my people that 
we have yielded rights to Mars in 
return for the promise of the stars. 
It is ... ah .. . too abstract a propo- 



sition for them to accept gracefully.” 

"I realize that," Merrill replied. 
"And I’ve devised a second proposal. 
In order to keep pantropy alive, we’ll 
need double-or-nothing legislation — 
authorizing colonization of both 
Mars and Venus.” 

Hwang protested, "But we are not 
able to create pantropic forms for 
Venus yet!” 

"I know. I’ve spoken with pan- 
tropists and terraformers, and I’ve 
done some research besides. I've 
learned that neither side thinks it 
can handle the job of planting life 
on Venus right now — although both 
insist it can be done eventually, given 
enough time and money. If you’ll 
pardon me, Dr. Halliburton, I don’t 
think it’s likely that terraforming 
will ever be useful on Venus.” Cut- 
ting off Halliburton’s reply, Merrill 
added, "And also, that pantropy will 
be applicable there only after decades 
of continued progress. With terra- 
forming and pantropy in their pres- 
ent state of development, neither 
science can handle the problem of 
making Venus livable right now. But 
both can.” 

"Both?” said Hwang and Halli- 
burton simultaneously. 

"Yes. Both. The atmosphere of 
Venus is too corrosive for humans to 
breathe. And there’s no simple way 
of converting that poisonous stew 
into something humans could 
breathe. On the other hand, pantropy 
isn’t currently capable of developing 
a race whose metabolic processes- 
could get along without oxygen. But 



118 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




consider this, Doctors Hwang and 
Halliburton: how about a co-opera- 
tive project? Partial terraforming of 
Venus, to an extent that would make 
it livable for a species within the 
abilities of pantropy to create?” 

A look at the faces of the two sci- 
entists told Merrill he had scored a 
direct hit. "Meet halfway,” he went 
on. "You’re each necessary, but not 
individually sufficient, for establishing 
life on Venus. We need to nurture 
the fledgling science of pantropy. 
And we need an inhabited Venus. 
It would be an economic outlet, and 
also a third point of view in the solar 
system — the third vertex of a triangle 
of inhabited worlds. Do you think 
it could be done?” 

"We could certainly try,” Halli- 
burton admitted quietly. 

"And I think we would succeed,” 
Hwang added. 

"Let me sum up, then,” Merrill 
said. He was sweat-soaked and 
nearly drained of energy. "The only 
way to break the deadlock is with a 
double-barreled bill. Mars must be 
terraformed, to provide an imme- 
diate population outlet and a means 
of getting the public to approve what 
we’re doing. Venus will be populated 
by pantropic life forms, once the 
terraformers have eased the way 
there. And terraforming and pan- 
tropy will work hand in hand from 
now on. New techniques will be per- 
fected. Information will be shared. 
The spread of Earthmen throughout 
the universe will be made possible. 
Can we count on your support for 
such legislation?” 

deadlock 



He stared at Kennedy. The tall 
American squirmed, fidgeted, shrug- 
’Yes,” he said finally. 

Mr. Wu?” Merrill asked. 

The Chinese knotted his delicate 
fingers tightly in indecision. "It is 
the only way, I suppose.” 

Reed chuckled bitterly. "For a 
while, at the beginning of this meet- 
ing, I thought we had won. That it 
would be terraforming all the way. 
But I see that it isn’t really that way 
at all. Actually we’ve lost, in the long 
run. We’ve taken the first round, 
that’s all.” 

"Hardly,” Wu said. "It is we of 
China who have lost. Mars will be 
terraformed. We have been forced 
to give ground.” 

"No,” Merrill said sharply. 
"You're dead wrong, both of you. 
The only loser has been petty na- 
tional pride. Individually, you can 
each consider yourselves losers, if 
you want to. But Earth is the real 
winner!” 

"We interrupt this program to 
bring you a special bulletin from 
United Nations Headquarters in 
New York: 

"The General Assembly today 
adopted a resolution introduced joint- 
ly by the United States and China 
which brings to an end three months 
of deadlocked discussion over pro- 
posals for colonization of Mars. 

"By a unanimous vote the Assem- 
bly resolved to accept the Western 
plan for converting Mars to a planet 
livable for human beings, and ap- 
propriated $180 billion for carrying 

119 




this out at once. At the same time, 
the sum of $50 billion was approp- 
riated as initial financing for a new 
joint American-Chinese project for 
establishing a race of adapted human 
beings on Venus. 

"Wu Hsien-fu, chief Chinese 
U.N. delegate, issued a statement 
shortly after the vote which said, in 
part, 'It is wrong to talk of Ameri- 
can goals or Chinese goals. The only 
goals that matter are those of Earth. 
And now a united Earth begins the 
harmonious and peaceful conquest of 
the universe!’ End quote. 

"Further details will follow. We 
return you now to the regularly 
scheduled program.’’ 

— Broadcast over most video 
networks, 5:49 p.m., June 13, 
2052. 

Restrained jubilation prevailed in 
the private office of Hilaire St. Leg- 
er, Secretary-General of the United 
Nations. Only two men were present 
at the celebration: St. Leger himself, 
and Dane Merrill. The room was lit- 
tered with cigarette ashes and pipe 
dottle. It was an hour since the vote 
had been taken. Neither Merrill nor 
St. Leger really believed the result 
yet. 

St. Leger poured out a double tot 
of brandy for each of them. The in- 
dispensable bottle was nearly empty. 
They toasted solemnly. 

“They gave in," St. Leger said, 
shaking his head. "I never thought 
they would. But you handled it bril- 
liantly.” 

"I had my doubts all the way,” 
12C 



Merrill said. "After all, they both 
had to back down. The East had to 
abandon Mars to the terraformers, 
and the West had to quit its stand of 
opposing pantropy on principle.” 

St. Leger sighed. "East and West, 
West and East! Earth’s welfare is 
what matters. Not West or East. Ah, 
well. The session adjourns tomorrow, 
Dane. It’ll be good to have a rest, 
won’t it?” 

"It sure will. Ellen and I are 
spending a month in Yucatan. And 
I guess you’ll be going back to Que- 
bec for the summer, eh?” 

"Not for the summer,” St. Leger 
said in a quiet voice. "I’m going back 
for good. I’ve submitted my resigna- 
tion. I’m an old man, and I’m tired.” 
"But — ” 

”1 spoke to Kennedy and Wu just 
after the vote today. I told them I’m 
quitting. I also made a recommenda- 
tion for a successor. They’ve tenta- 
tively agreed to sponsor you for the 
job, Dane. Which means the job's 
yours, if you want it.” 

"I see,” Merrill said gravely. The 
pleasant glow of semi-inebriation 
dimmed in an instant. A mantle of 
responsibility had settled over his 
shoulders. "I don’t see how I can re- 
fuse. But . . . but . . . well, I hope 
I’m worthy of the job,” he said 
finally. 

"If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be 
getting- it.” St. Leger smiled and 
glanced at his watch. "It’s past seven, 
Dane. You’d better be getting home 
to Ellen.” 

"Yes. You’re right.” 

Merrill rose and began to gather 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




up his papers, to tidy his hair and 
wipe some of the day's grime from 
his face. St. Leger said in an intro- 
spective voice, "I was bom in 1985, 
Dane. Right in the middle of the 
Nightmare Years. 'United Nations’ 
was just a collection of meaningless 
syllables then. But I’ve lived long 
enough to see it mean something. 
When were you born, Dane?” 

"2014.” 

"Five years after the Treaty. So 
you don’t really know what conflict 
between nations can be.” 

"I saw some of it this year,” Mer- 
rill said. 

St. Leger nodded, his big body 
quivering. "Yes, you did. But we 
shut it off before anything serious 
developed. And now . . . now, Mars 
and Venus.” St. Leger smiled. 
"Dane, I was the first Secretary-Gen- 
eral of the real United Nations. 
You’re going to find yourself Secre- 
tary-General of the United Worlds, 
one of these days.” 



I hope so. I hope everything 
works out.” 

"It will,” St. Leger said. "The old- 
er I get, the more firmly I believe 
that there’s some sort of force in the 
universe that makes things work out 
all right, eventually. You’ll have 
your problems, of course. But you’ll 
be able to handle them, Dane. I 
know you will.” 

THe old man leaned back and 
closed his eyes — no longer Secretary- 
General of the United Nations, but 
just a tired, overweight old man who 
had had somewhat too much to drink 
in the past hour. Dane Merrill smiled 
warmly at St. Leger. They shook 
hands, perhaps for the last time. 

Then the retiring Secretary-General 
of the United Nations roused- him- 
self and began clearing out his desk, 
while the future Secretary-General of 
the United Worlds went home to be- 
gin the last vacation he was likely to 
have for quite some time. 



THE END 




Deadlock 



121 





BY ERIC FRANK RUSSELL 



tlluktraled by Frees 



When you discover the laws 
by which a system operates — 
never buck them. Help them 
the way they’re already going 
— but help them your way! 



122 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




HAT burns me up,” said 
Purcell bitterly, "is the 
fact that one cannot get 
anything merely on 
grounds of dire neces- 
sity” 

"Yeah,” said Hancock, carrying on 
with his writing. 

"If one gets it at all,” continued 
Purcell, warming to his subject, "it 
is for a reason that has nothing what- 
ever to do with need or urgency. One 
gets it because and only because one 
has carefully filled out the correct 
forms in the correct way, got them 
signed and countersigned by the 
proper fatheads and submitted them 
through the proper channels to the 
proper people on Terra.” 

"Yeah,” said Hancock, the tip of 
his tongue moving in sympathy with 
his pen. 

"Yeah, yeah, yeah,” echoed Purcell 
in somewhat higher tones. "Can’t you 
say anything but yeah?” 

Hancock sighed, ceased writing, 
mopped his forehead with a sweaty 
handkerchief. "Look, let’s do what 
we’re paid for, shall we? Griping 
gets us nowhere.” 

"Well, what are we paid for?” 
"Personally, I. think that pilots 
grounded by injuries should be 
found employment elsewhere. They 
never settle down to routine work.” 
"That doesn’t answer my ques- 
tion.” 

"We’re here upon Alipan, in the 
newly settled system of B417,” in- 
formed Hancock ponderously, "to 
co-ordinate the inflow of essential 
supplies, making the best use of cargo 



space available. We are also here to 
deal with internal demands for sup- 
plies and assign priorities to them." 

"Priorities my foot,” said Purcell. 
He snatched up a form and flourished 
it in midair. "What sort of priority 
should be given to twenty-four cases 
of gin?” 

"If you bothered to look, you’d 
see,” Hancock gave back. "Class B 
import. I stamped it myself and you 
initialed it.” 

"I must have been momentarily 
blind. Who says gin gets priority over 
high-pressure oxygen flasks, for in- 
stance?” 

"Letheren.” Hancock frowned, 
fiddled with his pen. "Mind you, I 
don’t agree with it myself. I think it’s 
an iniquity. But Letheren is a senior 
official. As a pilot you may have 
cocked many a snoot at senior officials 
and got away with it. But you’re not 
a pilot now. You’re just another desk- 
squatter. As such you’d better learn 
that it isn’t wise to thwart senior 
officials. They get moved around and 
up as more senior ones die of fatty 
degeneration. In five, ten or fifteen 
years’ time Letheren may be my boss. 
By then I’ll be treading on his heels. 
I won’t want him to turn around and 
kick me in the teeth.” 

"You really think that after all that 
time he’d hold it against you because 
you refused to bring in his gin?” 
asked Purcell incredulously. 

"No, I don’t. I’m bringing it in. 
He’ll have no reason to gripe.” 

"What a system!” said Purcell. He 
glowered through the window at the 
B417 sun. Its greenish hue made him 




STUDY IN STILL LIFE 



123 




feel slightly sick. "I can see now 
what I suspected years ago; space is 
slowly but surely being conquered by 
a few crazy coots not because of 
Terra but in spite of Terra. It’s being 
done by a small bunch of hotheads 
who like to zoom around in rocket- 
ships. They’re getting results in the 
face of every handicap we can place 
upon them.” 

"Having been a pilot you’re preju- 
diced in their favor,” said Hancock 
defensively. "After all, somebody 
has to do the paperwork.” 

"I’d agree if the paperwork was 
necessary and made sense.” 

"If there wasn’t any paperwork, 
we’d both be out of a job." 

"You’ve got something there. So 
on this planet there are two thou- 
sands of us sitting on our fundaments 
busily making work for each other. 
In due time there’ll be five thousand, 
then ten thousand.” 

"I’m looking forward to it,” com- 
mented Hancock, brightening. "It’ll 
mean promotion. And the more sub- 
ordinates we have the higher our own 
status.” 

"That may be so. I won’t take it 
with an easy conscience but I’ll take 
it just the same. Frail human flesh, 
that’s me.” Purcell scowled at his 
desk, went on, "Guess I’m not yet 
old enough and cynical enough to 
accept the general waste of time and 
effort. There are moments when I 
could go off with a very large bang. 
This is one of them.” 

Hancock, who had picked up his 
pen, put it down again and asked re- 



signedly, "Exactly what irks your 
reformist spirit right now?” 

"There’s a fellow here, a bugolo- 
gist — ” 

"An entomologist,” Hancock cor- 
rected. 

"You will kindly allow me to 
choose my own words,” Purcell sug- 
gested. "This bugologist wants a 
cobalt-60 irradiation outfit. It weighs 
three-eighty pounds.” 

"What for?” 

"To clear the Great Forest area of 
a disease-carrying fly.” 

"How’s he going to do that?” 
"According to section- D7 of his 
application form under the heading 
of REASONS, he says that treated 
male flies will effectively sterilize all 
female flies with whom they mate. 
Also that if he traps, irradiates and 
frees enough males he can wipe out 
the species. Also that several centuries 
ago Terra got rid of screw-worm, 
tsetse and other flies by precisely the 
same method. He claims that he can 
make the whole of the Great Forest 
area inhabitable, exploitable and save 
an unknown number of lives. There- 
fore he asks for top priority.” 

"That seems reasonable,” Hancock 
conceded. 

"You would give his dingus top 
priority, eh?” 

"Certainly. A Class A import.” 
"That is real nice to know,” said 
Purcell. "I am heartened to find 
sweet reasonableness sitting behind a 
desk and wearing oilskin pants.” He 
slung the form across to the other. 
"Some bead-brained four-eyes has 
stamped it Class L. So this bugolo- 



124 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




gist won’t get his fly-killer for at 
least another seven years.” 

"It wasn't me,” protested Han- 
cock, staring at it. "I remember this 
one now. I got it about four months 
ago and passed it to Rohm for his 
approval.” 

"Why?” 

"Because he’s in charge of forest- 
ry-'' 

"Holy cow!” said Purcell. "What 
have flies got to do with forestry?” 
"The Great Forest area is the re- 
sponsibility of Rohm’s department. 
Anything pertaining to it must be 
passed to him.” 

"And he’s stamped it Class'L. He 
must be off his head.” 

"We cannot assume inefficiency 
in another department,” Hancock 
pointed out. "There may be a thou- 
sand and one things Rohm needs 
more urgently. Medical supplies for 
instance.” 

"Yes, to cure people of the stag- 
gers after being bitten by flies,” Pur- 
cell riposted. "If space-scouts oper- 
ated the way we work, they’d still be 
preparing photostats of their birth 
and marriage certificates in readiness 
for an attempt on the Moon.” He 
took the form back, eyed it with dis- 
taste. "Letheren’s gin aggravates me. 
I have always hated the stuff. It tastes 
the same way a dead dog smells. If 
he can wangle a dollop of booze, why 
can’t we wangle a cobalt-60 irradia- 
tor?” 

"You can’t buck the system,” de- 
clared Hancock. "Not until you’re 
one of the top brass.” 

“I’m bucking it as from now,” 



Purcell announced. He reached for a 
fresh form, started filling it in. "I’m 
making a top priority demand for a 
fly-killer for Nemo." 

"Nemo?” Hancock looked stupi- 
fied. "What’s that?” 

Purcell waved a careless hand to- 
ward the window. "The newly dis- 
covered planet out there.” 

Shoving back his chair, Hancock 
waddled to the window and gazed 
through it a long time. He couldn’t 
see anything. After a while he came 
back, puffed, mopped his forehead 
again, reached for the intercom phone. 
Purcell snapped, "Put that down !” 
Letting go as if it were red-hot, 
Hancock complained, "If they’ve 
started operations on a new planet, 
Collister’s department should have 
notified us in the proper manner. 1 
object to this sloppy method of pass 
ing news along by word of mouth 
during lunch-hour gossip. Essential 
information should be transmitted in 
writing and distributed to all the in- 
dividuals concerned.” 

"Collister’s crowd know nothing 
about Nemo.” 

"Don't they? Why not?” 

"I just invented it,” said Purcell 
evenly. 

"You invented it?” 

"That’s what I said.” Completing 
the form, Purcell smacked it with a 
huge red stamp bearing the letters TP. 
then with a smaller one reading 
Consign via Alipan B417. While 
Hancock goggled at him he signed it 
shoved it into the pneumatic tube 
Within four minutes the radio 



STUDY IN STILL LIFE 



125 




facsimile would be flashed Earthward. 

Hancock said, aghast, "You must 
be mad.” 

"Crazy like a fox,” admitted Pur- 
cell, undisturbed. 

"They won't accept a requisition, 
for an unregistered planet without 
official advice of its discovery and 
notification of its co-ordinates." 

"The demand is an advice and I 
included the co-ordinates." 

"They’ll check on this," warned 
Hancock. 

-"With whom? The department for 
Nemo?” 

"There isn’t one,” said Hancock. 

"Correct. They’ll have to check 
with Yehudi.” 

"They’ll find out sooner or later 
that they’ve been taken. There will 
be trouble. I want you to know, Pur- 
cell, that I hereby disclaim all respon- 
sibility for this. Officially I know 
nothing whatever about it. It is sole- 
ly and wholly your own pigeon.” 

"Don’t worry. I’m willing to ac- 
cept the full credit for a praiseworthy 
display of initiative. Anyway, by that 
time the bugologist will have got his 
equipment and all the flies will be 
dead.” 

Hancock simmered down for five 
minutes then took on a look of horror 
as a new thought struck him. "If they 
load three-eighty pounds of scientific 
hardware, it’s highly likely that they 
won’t load the gin.” 

"That’s what I like about it.” 

"Letheren will tun amok.” 

"Let him,” said Purcell. "He 
thinks he’s heap big. To me he’s just 
a big heap.” 



"Purcell, I will accept no respon- 
sibility for this." 

"So you said before.” Then he 
added with some menace, "Always 
bear one thing in mind, Hancock — 
I don’t look as daft as I am!" 

At Terra the indent landed on 
Bonhoeffer’s desk, he being in charge 
of the Incoming Mail (Pre-sorting) 
Department. Bonhoeffer was a real 
woman’s man, big, handsome, muscu- 
lar, stupid. He owed his eminence 
solely to the fact that while in ten 
years the incoming mail had increased 
by twelve per cent the number of his 
subordinates had gone up one hun- 
dred forty per cent. This was more 
or less in accordance with the rules 
laid down by Professor C. Northcote 
Parkinson.* 

Bonhoeffer "picked up the form 
with much reluctance. It was the only 
item on his desk. The slaves dealt 
with everything as a matter of daily 
routine and nothing was brought to 
his personal attention unless there 
was something awkward about it. This 
suited him topnotch; it gave him 
plenty of time not to think. 

So he knew in advance that this 
particular form contained the subject 
of an administrative quibble and that 
he must demonstrate his intelligence 
by finding it alone and unaided. Slow- 
ly and carefully he read it from top 
to bottom four times. As far as he 
could see there was nothing wrong 
with it. This irritated him. It meant 
that he must summon the individual 
who had passed the invisible buck 

♦Parkinson’s Law. circa 1958. 



126 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




and do him the honor of asking his 
opinion. 

He examined the form’s top left 
corner to see who would be thus 
honored. The initials scrawled 
thereon were F. Y. That meant the 
buck-passer was Feodor Yok. He 
might have expected it. Yok was a 
clever bum, an office show-off. He 
looked like Rasputin with a crew-cut. 
And he wore the knowing smirk of 
a successful ambulance chaser. Bon- 
hoeffer would rather drop dead than 
ask Yok the time of day. 

That made things difficult. He 
studied the requisition another four 
times and still it looked plenty good 
enough to pass any determined fault- 
finder, even Yok. Then it occurred 
to him that there was an escape from 
this predicament. He, too, could 
transfer the grief, preferably to an 
eager beaver. It was as easy as that. 

Switching his desk-box, he order- 
ed, "Send in Quayle.” 

Quayle arrived with his usual 
promptitude. He was built along the 
lines of a starving jackrabbit and 
tried to compensate for it with a 
sort of military obsequiousness. He 
wore a dedicated look and was the 
sort of creep who would salute an 
officer over the telephone. 

"Ah, Quayle," began Bonhoeffer 
with lordly condescension. "I have 
been watching your progress with 
some interest.” 

"Really, sir?” said Quayle, toothy 
with delight. 

"Yes, indeed. I keep a careful eye 
on everyone though I doubt whether 
they realize it. The true test of 

STUDY IN STILL LIFE 



managerial competence is the ability 
to depute responsibility. To do that 
one must know and understand the 
men under one. Naturally some are 
more competent than others. You 
gather my meaning, Quayle?” 

"Yes, sir,” agreed Quayle, strain- 
ing to expand his halo. 

"Yok has seen fit- to bring this 
requisition form to my attention.” 
Bonhoeffer handed it over. "I was 
about to transfer it for necessary 
action when it occurred to me that it 
would be useful to know whether the 
question it raises is as obvious to you 
as it was to Yok and myself, also 
whether you can be as quick to deter- 
mine what should be done about it.” 
Quayle's halo faded from sight 
while his face took on the look of a 
cornered rat. In complete silence he 
studied the form from end to end, 
reading it several times. 

Finally he ventured in uncertain 
tones, "I can find nothing wrong 
with it, sir, except that it is a demand 
for Nemo. I don’t recall seeing that 
planet upon the supply list.” 

"Very good, Quayle, very good,” 
praised Bonhoeffer. "And what do 
you think should be done about it?” 
"Well, sir,” continued Quayle, 
vastly encouraged but still weak at 
the knees, "since the requisition 
emanates from Alipan, which is on 
the list, I’d say that it is valid so far 
as our department is concerned. 
Therefore I would pass it to the sci- 
entific division for confirmation of 
the reasons given and the correctness 
of the specification.” 

"Excellent, Quayle. I may as well 

127 




say that you have come up to my 
expectations.” 

"Thank you, sir.” 

"I am a great believer in giving 
encouragement where it is deserved.” 
Bonhoeffer bestowed a lopsided smile 
upon the other. "Since you have the 
form in your hands you may as well 
deal with it. Yok brought it in but 
I prefer that you handle it in person.” 

"Thank you, sir,” repeated Quayle, 
the halo bursting forth in dazzling 
glory. He went out. 

Bonhoeffer lay back and gazed with 
satisfaction at the empty desk. 

In due course — meaning about 
three weeks — the scientific division 
swore and deposed that there really 
was such an article as a cobalt-60 
irradiator and that it could in fact 
cause flies to indulge in futile woo. 
Quayle therefore attached this slight- 
ly obscene certificate to the requisition 
and passed it to the purchasing de- 
partment for immediate attention. 

He felt fully justified in doing this 
despite that the mysterious Nemo 
was still absent from the official sup- 
ply list. After all, he had been au- 
thorized by Bonhoeffer to take the 
necessary action and the scientific 
division had duly certified that there 
was something with which to act. He 
was covered both ways, coming and 
going. In effect, Quayle was fire- 
proof, a much-to-be-desired state of 
existence. 

The form and attached certificate 
now got dumped on Stanisland, an 
irascible character generally viewed 
as the offspring of a canine mother. 

128 



Stanisland read them to the accom- 
paniment of a series of rising grunts, 
found himself in the usual quandary. 
The purchasing department was sup- 
posed to know the prime sources of 
everything from peanuts to synthetic 
hormones. To that end it had a ref- 
erence library so large that a fully 
equipped expedition was needed to 
get anywhere beyond the letter F. The 
library was used almost solely to 
demonstrate frenzied overwork 
whenever a high-ranking senior hap- 
pened around, the safest place being 
atop the ladder. 

It was easier to ask the right ques- 
tions in the right places than to go on 
safari through a mile of books. More- 
over Stanisland could admit ignorance 
of nothing in a room full of compara- 
tive halfwits. So he adopted his favor- 
ite tactic. Scowling around to make 
sure nobody was watching, he stuff- 
ed the papers into a pocket, got up, 
hoarsely muttered something about 
the men’s room and lumbered out. 

Then he trudged along three cor- 
ridors, reached a bank of private 
phone booths, entered one, dialed 
the scientific division and asked for 
Williams. He uttered this name with 
poor grace because in his opinion 
Williams had been designed by Na- 
ture specifically to occupy a padded 
cell. 

When the other came on, he said, 
"Stanisland, purchasing department, 
here.” 

"How's the bile flowing?” greeted 
Williams, conscious that neither was 
senior to the other. 

Ignoring that, Stanisland went 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




on, "You have issued certificate 
D2794018 against a cobalt-60 irradi- 
ator on demand by Alipan.” 

"I don't take your word for it,” 
said Williams. "Give me that num- 
ber again and wait while I trace the 
copy.” 

Stanisland gave it and waited. He 
stood there about ten minutes know- 
ing full well that Williams was tak- 
ing one minute to find the copy and 
allowing him the other nine in which 
to grow a beard. But he was impotent 
to do anything about it. Finally Wil-. 
liams came back. 

"My, are you still there?” he ask- 
ed in mock surprise. "Things must 
be ’pretty quiet in your department.” 
"If we were as bone-idle as other 
departments, we’d have no need to 
consult them,” shouted Stanisland. 
"We’d have all the time in the world 
to dig up information for ourselves.” 
"Aha!” said Williams, nastily 
triumphant. "You don’t know where 
to get an irradiator, eh?” 

"It isn’t a question of not know- 
ing,” Stanisland retorted. "It’s a 
question of saving time finding out. 
If I search under C for cobalt, it 
won’t be there. It won’t be under I 
for irradiator either. Nor under S for 
sixty. In about a week’s time I’ll dis- 
cover that it’s under H because the 
correct technical name for it is a 
hyperdiddlic honey or something like 
that. Things would be a lot easier if 
you eggheads would make up your 
minds to call a spade a plain, ordinary 
spade and stick to it for keeps.” 
"Shame,” said Williams. 



"Furthermore,” continued Stanis- 
land with satisfying malice, "every 
alleged up-to-date supplement to the 
library comes to us seven years old. 
Why? Because your crowd keep ’em 
on file and won’t part until they begin 
to stink.” 

"We need them to stay up-to-date 
ourselves,” Williams pointed out. 
"The scientific division cannot afford 
to be behind the times.” 

"There you are then,” said Stanis- 
land,- winning his point. "I don’t 
want to know who was making rudi- 
mentary irradiators way back when 
television was two-dimensional. I 
want to know who is making them 
now. And I don’t want to put in to 
Abelson an official complaint about 
delayed data and willful obstruc- 
tion.” 

"Are you threatening me, you 
baggy-eyed tub?” asked Williams. 

Stanisland started shouting again. 
“I don’t want to touch Abelson with 
a ten-foot pole. You know what he’s 
like.” 

"Yeah, I know, I know.” Williams 
let go a resigned sigh. "Hold on a 
piece.” This time he was gone twelve 
minutes before he returned and re- 
cited a short list of names and 
addresses. 

Reaching his desk, Stanisland re- 
wrote the list more clearly, attached 
it to the form and certificate, passed 
the bunch to a junior. 

In tones hearable- all over the 
office, he said, "It’s a lucky thing that 
I had the handling of this demand. 
It so happens that I know all the 
people who make such a rare piece 



STUDY IN STILL LIFE 



129 





of apparatus. Now you get their esti- 
mates as quickly as possible and sub- 
mit them to me.” 

Then he glared happily around at 
all and sundry, enjoying their dead 
faces and knowing that they were 
hating him deep in their hearts. By 
hokey, he’d shown them who most 
deserved to be jacked up a grade. 

Forman Atomics quoted the lowest 
price and quickest delivery. A month 
later they got a request for copy of 
their authorization as an approved 
supplier. They mailed it pronto. Three 
days afterward they were required to 
send a sworn affidavit that their em- 
ployees included not less than ten 

130 



per cent of disabled spacemen. They 
sent it. Two intelligence agents 
visited their head office and satisfied 
themselves that the flag flying from 
the masthead was a genuine Terran 
one in substance and in fact. 

Meanwhile a subordinate from the 
Finance (Investigation) Department 
made search through the files of the 
Companies (Registered Statistics) 
Department aided by two juniors be- 
longing to that haven of rest. Be- 
tween them they made sure that not 
one dollar of Forman stock was held 
or controlled by the representative 
of any foreign power, either in per- 
son or by nominee. Admittedly, 
there was no such thing in existence 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




as a foreign power but that was be- 
side the point. 

By now the original requisition 
had attached to it the following: 

1. The scientific division’s certifi- 
cate. 

2. An interdepartmental slip signed 
by Quayle informing Stanisland that 
the requisition was passed to him for 
attention. 

3. A similar slip signed by Bon- 
hoeffer saying that he had ordered 
Quiyle to do the passing. 

4 to 11. Eight quotations for art 
irradiator, Forman's having been 
stamped: "Accepted subject to proc- 
ess.” 

12. A copy of Forman’s supply 
authorization. 

13. Forman’s affidavit. 

14. An intelligence report to the- 
effect that whatever was wrong with 
Forman’s could not be proved. 

15. A finance department report 
saying the same thing in longer 
words. 

Item twelve represented an old and 
completely hopeless attempt to buck 
the system. In the long, long ago 
somebody had made the mistake of 
hiring a fully paid-up member of 
Columbia University’s Institute of 
Synergistic Statics. Being under the 
delusion that a line is the shortest 
distance between two points, the 
newcomer had invented a blanket- 
system of governmental authoriza- 
tions which he fondly imagined would 
do away with items thirteen, fourteen 
and fifteen. 

This dastardly attempt to abolish 
three departments at one fell blow . 



had gained its just reward; a new 
department had been set up to deal 
with item twelve while the others 
had been retained. For creating this 
extra work the author of it had been 
hastily promoted to somewhere in the 
region of Bootes. 

Stanisland added the sixteenth item 
in the shape of his own interdepart- 
mental slip informing Taylor, the 
head of the purchasing department, 
that to the best of his knowledge and 
belief there were no remaining ques- 
tions to be raised and that it was now 
for him to place the order. Taylor, 
who had not been born yesterday, 
showed what he thought of this in- 
decent haste. Throwing away the 
overstrained paper-clip, he added his 
own slip to the wad, secured it with 
a wide- jawed bulldog fastener and 
fired it back at Stanisland. 

The slip said, "You are or should 
be well aware that a consignment of 
this description may not be within 
the capacity of the Testing (Instru- 
ments) Department. If it is not, we 
shall require a certificate of efficiency 
from the Bureau of Standards. Take 
the necessary action forthwith.” 

This resulted in Stanisland taking 
a fast walk around the corridors 
while the surplus steam blew out of 
his ears. He had never liked Taylor 
who obviously enjoyed his seniority 
and would turn anyone base over apex 
for the sadistic pleasure of it. Besides, 
in his spare time the fellow lived the 
full life hreeding piebald mice. With 
his beady eyes and twitching whiskers 
he bore close resemblance to his be- 
loved vermin. 



STUDY IN STILL LIFE 



131 




When pressure had dropped to the 
bearable, Stanisland returned to his 
desk, called a junior and gave him 
the wad plus a slip reading, "Can you 
test this thing?” 

Within ten days all the papers 
came back accompanied by the reply. 
"For emission only. Not for func- 
tional purpose. To test for the latter 
we would require, an adequate supply 
of the proposed subjects, namely and 
to wit, Nemo flies. Refer to Imports 
(Pest Control) Department.” 

So he phoned through to Chase 
who was sunbathing by a window 
and brought him back to his desk and 
Chase said with unnecessary surliness, 
"Importation forbidden.” 

"Can you quote authority for 
that?” asked Stanisland. 

"Certainly," snapped Chase. "See 
the Bacteriological Defense Act, vol- 
ume three titled Alien Insects, sub- 
section fourteen under heading of 
Known Or Suspected Disease Car- 
riers. I quote — ” 

"You needn’t bother,” said Stanis- 
land hastily. "I’ve got to have it in 
writing anyway.” 

"All right. Give me those refer- 
ence numbers again and I’ll send you 
a documentary ban.” 

"I don’t see how the testing de- 
partment is going to cope in these 
circumstances.” 

"That’s their worry, not yours,” 
advised Chase. "Be your age!” 

In due time — meaning another 
three weeks — Chase’s prohibition ar- 
rived properly stamped, signed and 
countersigned. It got added to the 
growing bunch. Stanisland was now 

132 



faced with the very serious question 
of whether a mere test for emission 
was adequate and in accordance with 
the rules. To resolve it one way or 
the other meant reaching A Decision. 
And that could be done only by an 
official in A Position Of Responsi- 
bility. 

Yeah, Taylor. 

At the prospect of consulting Tay- 
lor a great sorrow came upon him. 
It would imply that he, Stanisland, 
couldn’t summon up the nerve. But 
the alternative was far worse, namely, 
to exceed his authority. He blanched 
at the thought of it. 

For two days Stanisland let the pa- 
pers lie around while he tried to think 
up some other way out. There was no 
other way. If he dumped the wad on 
Taylor’s desk during his absence and 
then went sick, Taylor would hold 
the lot pending his return. If he 
transferred the file to the next depart- 
ment, it would be bounced back with 
malicious glee plus a note pointing to 
the lack of an order. Obviously he 
had to see Taylor. He had nothing 
to fear but fear itself. 

Finally he steeled himself, march- 
ed into Taylor’s office, gave him the 
documents and pointed to the last 
two items. 

"You will see, sir, that an adequate 
test cannot be performed because of 
an import restriction.” 

"Yes, my dear Stanisland,” said 
Taylor, courteous in a thoroughly 
aggravating manner. "I suspected 
some such difficulty myself.” 

Stanisland said nothing. 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




"I am somewhat surprised that you 
failed to anticipate it,” added Taylor 
pointedly. 

"With all respect, sir, I have a lot 
of work to do and one cannot fore- 
see everything.” 

"I am more impressed by efficiency 
than by apologies,” commented Tay- 
lor in sugar-sweet tones. "And so far 
as- I am concerned the test of effi- 
ciency is the ability to handle poten- 
tially controversial matters in such a 
manner that this department, when 
called upon to do so, can produce 
documentary justification for every- 
thing it has done. In other words, so 
long as there are no routine blunders 
within our own department it is not 
our concern what mistakes may be 
made in other departments. Do you 
understand me, my dear Stanis- 
land ?” 

"Yes, sir,” said Stanisland with 
bogus humility. 

"Good !” Taylor lay back, hooked 
thumbs in armholes, eyed him as if 
he were a piebald mouse. "Now, have 
you brought the order in readiness 
for my signature?” 

Stanisland went purple, swallowed 
hard. "No, sir.” 

"Why haven't you?” 

"It appeared to me, sir, that it 
would first be necessary to obtain 
your ruling on whether or not a test 
for emission is sufficient.” 

"My ruling?” Taylor raised his 
eyebrows in mock surprise. "Have 
you taken leave of your senses? I do 
not make decisions for other depart- 
ments, surely you know that?” 
"Yes, sir, but — ” 

STUDY IN STILL LIFE 



"Anyone with the moral fortitude 
to look a fact in the face,” interrupt- 
ed Taylor, tapping the papers with a 
long, thin forefinger, "can see that 
here we have a written statement 
from the appropriate department to 
the effect that this piece of apparatus 
can be tested. That is all we require. 
The question of how it is tested or 
for what it is tested does not concern 
us in the least. We have enough re- 
sponsibilities of our own without ac- 
cepting those properly belonging to 
other departments.” 

"Yes, sir,” agreed Stanisland, not 
inclined to argue the matter. 

"Already there has been far too 
much delay in dealing with this re- 
quisition,” Taylor went on. "The de- 
mand is now almost a year old. Dis- 
graceful!” 

"I assure you, sir, that it is not 
my — ” 

"Cut out the excuses and let me 
see some action.” 

"You wish me to write out the 
order at once, sir?” 

"No, you need not bother. Go get 
your order book, give it to my secre- 
tary and tell her that I wish to deal 
with it personally." 

"Very well, sir.” Stanisland de- 
parted sweating a mixture of ire and 
relief. 

Finding the order book, he took 
it to the secretary. She was a frozen- 
faced female who never lost an op- 
portunity to admire his ignorance. 
She was named Hazel, after a nut. 

On the face of it something had 
now been accomplished. A gadget 

133 




had been demanded, the demand had 
been checked, counterchecked and 
approved, estimates had been obtained 
and the order placed. It remained for 
Forman- Atomics to supply the irradi- 
ator, the Testing Department to test 
it, the Shipping (Outward) Depart- ' 
ment to authorize dispatch to Alipan 
and the Loading (Space Allocation) 
Department to put it aboard the right 
ship. 

True, a dozen more departments 
had yet to handle the growing mass 
of papers which by now had attained 
the dignity of a box-file. Between 
them they’d fiddle around for an- 
other two years before the wad was 
reluctantly consigned to the morgue 
of the Records (Filing) Department. 
But all these were strictly post-ship- 
ment departments; the days, weeks 
and months they spent playing with 
documents did not matter once the 
consignment was on its way. Any 
irate hustle-up note from the top 
brass in Alipan could now be answer- 
ed, curtly and effectively, with the 
bald statement that Action Had 
Been Taken. 

Stanisland therefore composed his 
soul in bilious peace, satisfied that he 
had hurdled an awkward obstacle to 
the accompaniment of no more than 
a few raspberries from Taylor, He 
gained some compensation for the 
latter by reminding everyone in the 
office that he was peculiarly qualified 
to advise on rare apparatus without 
first getting himself lost in the library. 
Having instilled that fact in their 
minds he carried on with routine 
work and began gradually to forget 

134 



the subject. But he was not left in 
peace for long. 

In more than due time — meaning 
at least twice three weeks — his tele- 
phone shrilled and a voice said, "This 
is Keith of Inspection Department.” 
"Yes?” responded Stanisland 
warily. He had never heard of Keith, 
much less met him. 

"There's a difficulty here,” con- 
tinued Keith, smacking his lips. "I 
have been on to Loading about it and 
they've referred me to Shipping 
who’ve referred me to Testing who’ve 
referred me to Purchasing. I see by 
the papers that the order was placed 
by Taylor but that you did the proc- 
essing.” 

"What’s wrong?” asked Stanisland, 
immediately recognizing the swift 
passing of an unwanted buck. 

"The manifest of the Star fire in- 
cludes a thing called a cobalt-60 ir- 
radiator for delivery to Alipan. It has 
been supplied by Forman Atomics 
against your department’s order num- 
ber BZ12-10127.” 

"What of it?” 

"Testing Department has issued a 
guarantee that emission is satisfac- 
tory,” Keith continued. "You know 
what that means.” 

Stanisland hadn't the remotest 
notion of what it meant but was not 
prepared to say so. He evaded the 
point by inquiring, "Well, what has 
it to do with this department?” 

"It has got plenty to do with some 
department,” Keith retorted. "They 
can’t all disclaim responsibility.” 
Still feeling around in the dark, 
Stanisland said carefully, "I may have 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




to take this to Taylor or even to 
Abelson. They will insist on me re- 
peating your complaint in exact 
terms. Is there any reason why you 
can’t send it round in writing?” 
"Yes,” said Keith. "There isn't 
time. The ship takes off this evening.” 
"All right. Exactly what do you 
want me to tell Taylor?” 

Keith fell into the trap and in- 
formed, "This cobalt-60 contraption 
cannot have satisfactory emission 
without being radioactive. Therefore 
it comes under the heading of Nox- 
ious Cargo. It cannot be shipped by 
the Starfire unless we are supplied 
with a certificate to the effect that it 
is properly screened and will not con- 
taminate adjacent cargo.” 

"Oh!” said Stanisland, feeling yet 
again that the only thing between 
him and the top of the ladder was 
the ladder. 

"Such a certificate should have been 
supplied in the first place,” added 
Keith, drowning his last spark of 
decency. "Somebody slipped up. I’m 
holding a wad three inches thick and 
everything’s here but that.” 

Annoyed by this, Stanisland bawl- 
ed, "I fail to see why the production 
of a non-contaminatory certificate 
should be considered the responsi- 
bility of this department.” 

"Testing Department say they 
offered to check for emission only 
and that you accepted this,” Keith 
gave back. "The documents show 
that their statement is correct. I have 
them here before my very eyes.” 
"That is sheer evasion,” maintain- 
ed Stanisland. "It is your job to make 

STUDY IN STILL LIFE 



them take back the apparatus and 
check it for screening.” 

"On the contrary," shot back 
Keith, "it is not, never has been and 
never will be my job to make good 
the. shortcomings of other depart- 
ments. The Starfire takes off at ten 
tonight. No certificate, no shipment. 
Sort it out for yourself.” He cut off, 
effectively preventing further argu- 
ment. 

Stanisland brooded over the injus- 
tice of it before he went to see Taylor 
again, this time looking like hard 
luck on two feet. Taylor responded 
by meditating aloud about people who 
could not paint a floor without ma- 
rooning themselves in one corner. 
Then he grabbed the phone and spent 
ten minutes swapping recriminations 
with Jurgensen of Testing Depart- 
ment. Jurgensen, a confirmed bache- 
lor, flatly refused to hold the baby. 

Giving the waiting Stanisland an 
evil stare, Taylor now tried to foist 
the problem onto the Scientific Divi- 
sion. All he got for his pains was a 
piece of Williams’ mind, the piece 
with the hole in. Muttering to him- 
self, he phoned Keith who promptly 
gave him the merry ha-ha and repeat- 
ed in sinister tones his remark about 
no certificate, no shipment. 

Finally Taylor thrust the phone 
aside and said, "Well, my dear Stan- 
island, you have made a nice mess 
of this.” 

"Me?” said Stanisland, paralyzed 
by the perfidy of it. 

"Yes, you.” 

This was too much. Stanisland 

135 




burst out, "But you approved the or- 
der and tended to it yourself.” 

"I did so on the assumption that 
all routine aspects of the matter had 
been seen to with the efficiency that 
I expect from my subordinates. Evi- 
dently my faith was misplaced.” 
"That is hardly fair judgment, sir, 
because — ” 

"Shut up!” Taylor ostentatiously 
consulted his watch. "We have seven 
hours before the Slarfire leaves. 
Neither the Testing Department nor 
the Scientific Division will issue the 
document Keith requires. We have 
no authority to provide one ourselves. 
But one must be got from somewhere. 
You realize that, don’t you, Stanis- 
land?” 

"Yes, sir.” 

"Since you are directly responsible 
for this grave omission it is equally 
your responsibility to make it good. 
Now go away and exercise your im- 
agination, if you have any. Come back 
to me when you have incubated a 
useful idea.” 

"I cannot forge a certificate, sir,” 
Stanisland protested. 

"It has not been suggested that you 
should,” Taylor pointed out acidly. 
"The solution, if there is one, must 
be in accordance with regulations and 
not open to question by higher au- 
thority. It is for you to find it. And 
don’t be too long about it.” 

Returning to his desk, Stanisland 
flopped into his chair and chased his 
brains around his skull. The only re- 
sult was a boost to his desperation. 
He gnawed his fingers, thought furi- 
ously and always arrived at the same 

136 



result; nobody, but nobody would 
produce anything in writing to cover 
up a blunder in another department. 

After some time he went for a 
walk to the phone booths where he 
could talk in private, called the sci- 
entific division and asked for Wil- 
liams. 

"Williams," he said oilily, "I was 
there when Taylor baited you an hour 
ago. I didn’t like his attitude.” 
"Neither did I,” said Williams. 
"You have been of great help to 
us on many occasions,” praised Stan- 
island with an effort. "I’d- like you 
to know that I genuinely appreciate 
it even if Taylor doesn’t.” 

"It’s most kind of you to say so,” 
informed Williams, letting go a 
menacing chuckle. "But you still 
won’t cajole from this department a 
document we are not authorized to 
give.” 

"I am not trying to do so,” Stanis- 
land assured. "I wouldn’t dream of 
it.” 

"Taylor tried. He must think we’re 
a bunch of suckers.” 

"I know,” said Stanisland, grate- 
fully seizing the opportunity thus 
presented. “To be frank, I wondered 
whether you’d be willing to help me 
give Taylor a smack in the eye.” 
"How?” 

"By coming up with some sugges- 
tion about how I can get over this 
noxious cargo business.” 

"And why should that have the 
effect of twisting Taylor’s arm?” 

"He thinks he’s got me where he 
wants me. I’d like to show him he 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




hasn’t. Some of these seniors need 
teaching a thing or two.” He paused, 
added craftily, "Abelson for in- 
stance.” 

The effect of that name in the 
other’s ears clinched the deal and 
Williams said without a moment’s 
hesitation, "All right, I’ll tell you 
something.” 

"What is it?” asked Stanisland 
eagerly. 

"No reputable outfit such as For- 
man’s would ship a radioactive appa- 
ratus inadequately screened. Probably 
seventy per cent of that irradiator’s 
weight is attributable to screening. 
Ask Forman’s and they’ll tell you — 
in writing.” 

"Williams,” said Stanisland de- 
lightedly. "I’ll never forget this.” 

"You will," contradicted Williams. 
"But I won’t.” 

Stanisland now phoned Forman’s 
and explained the position in com- 
plete detail. Their response was 
prompt: they would prepare a writ- 
ten guarantee of safety and deliver 
it by special messenger to Keith 
within two hours. Stanisland sighed 
with heartfelt relief. Seemed there 
were times when the efficiency of 
private industry almost approached 
that of bureaucracy. 

Over the next few days Stanisland 
waited with secret pleasure for a call 
from Taylor. It never came. Un- 
known to him, Taylor had phoned 
Keith to find out what had happen- 
ed, if anything. Taylor then realized 
that an interview with Stanisland 
would permit that worthy a moment 
of petty triumph. It was unthinkable 

STUDY IN STILL LIFE 




137 



that a senior should permit a subor- 
dinate to gloat. He would summon 
Stanisland into his presence when 
and only when he had some pretext 
for throwing him to the crocodiles. 
So Stanisland went on waiting, first 
with growing disappointment, then 
with dull resignation, finally with 
forgetfulness. 

The weeks rolled on while the wad 
of papers crawled through various 
offices and gained in mass at each 
desk. Then one day it reached the 
Documents (Final Checking) De- 
partment. It now weighed five pounds 
and was solid with words, figures, 
stamps, names and signatures. 

From this mountain of evidence 
some assiduous toiler dug out the 
strange word Nemo. His nose started 
twitching. He made a few discreet 
inquiries and satisfied himself that 
(a) someone had blundered and (b) 
the cretin was not located within his 
own office. Then he steered the wad 
toward the Spatial Statistics Depart- 
ment. 

Far away on Alipan a copy of the 
Starfire’s manifest landed on Han- 
cock’s desk. He scanned it carefully. 
Most of the stuff had been demanded 
three to four years ago. But he had 
a very good memory and the moment 
his eyes found an irradiator the 
alarm-bells rang in his brain. He was 
swift to give the list to Purcell. 

"You’d better deal with this.” 

"Me? Why? You got writer’s 
cramp or something?" 

"The ship is bringing an expensive 
present for a planet that doesn’t 

138 



exist. I don’t handle consignments 
for imaginary worlds.” 

"Windy, eh?" said Purcell. 

"Sane,” said Hancock. 

Examining the manifest, Purcell 
grumbled, "It’s taken them long 
enough. Nobody broke his neck to 
get it here. If scout-pilots moved at 
the same pace, Lewis and Clarke 
would still be pounding their dogs 
along the Oregon Trail.” 

"I am," announced Hancock, "sick 
and tired of the subject of scout- 
pilots." 

"And where would you have been 
without them?” 

"On Terra.” 

"Doing what?” 

"Earning an honest living,” said 
Hancock. 

"Yeah — filling forms;” said Pur- 
cell. 

Hancock let it slide and pretended 
to be busy. 

"Now this is where our right to 
determine priorities reaches its peak 
of usefulness,” Purcell went on, 
flourishing the manifest as if it were 
the flag of freedom. "We issue an 
overriding priority in favor of our 
bugologist, his need being greater 
than Nemo’s. The fly-killer will then 
be transferred to him without argu- 
ment because nobody questions a 
proper form, properly filled, proper- 
ly stamped and properly signed. Thus 
we shall have served humanity faith- 
fully and well.” 

"You can cut out every ’we’ and 
’our,’ ” ordered Hancock. "I am hav- 
ing nothing to do with it." He put 
on another brief imitation of over- 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




work, added as an afterthought, "I 
told you before, you can't buck the 
system.” 

"I have bucked it.” 

"Not yet,” said Hancock positively. 

Taking no notice, Purcell made 
out the priority, stamped it, signed 
it, studied it right way up and up- 
side-down, signed it again. 

"I've forged your signature. Do 
you mind?” 

"Yes,” yelled Hancock. 

"I am receiving you loud and 
clear.” Purcell examined the forgery 
with unashamed satisfaction. "Too 
bad. It’s done now. What's done can’t 
be undone.” 

"I’d like you to know, Purcell, that 
in the event of that document being 
challenged I shall not hesitate to de- 
clare my signature false.” 

"Quite a good idea,” enthused 
Purcell. "I’ll swear mine is false 
also.” 

"You wouldn’t dare,” said Han- 
cock, appalled. 

"It’ll take ’em at least ten years 
to figure who’s the liar and even then 
they couldn’t bet on it,” continued 
Purcell with indecent gusto. "In the 
meantime I’ll suggest that maybe 
every document of Alipan’s and half 
of Terra’s have phony signatures 
attributable to subordinates by-passing 
their seniors in order to avoid criti- 
cisms and conceal mistakes. The re- 
sulting chaos ought to create work for 
ten thousand checkers.” 

"You’re off your head,” declared 
Hancock. 

"Well, you can keep me comp- 
any,” Purcell suggested. He exhibited 

STUDY IN STILL LIFE 



the manifest at distance too far for 
the other to read. "I’ve got news for 
you.” 

"What is it?” 

"No gin.” 

Hancock sat breathing heavily for 
quite a time, then said, "You’re to 
blame for that.” 

"Nuts! I’ve no say in what Terra 
loads on or leaves off.” 

"But—” 

"If you’ve told me once,” Purcell 
went on remorselessly, "you’ve told 
me a hundred times that in no cir- 
cumstances whatever will any depart- 
ment on Alipan accept responsibility 
for decisions made on Terra. Cor- 
rect?” 

"Corect,” agreed Hancock as 
though surrendering a back tooth. 

"AH right. You ordered the gin 
and can prove it. You gave it high 
priority and can prove it. You’re 
armor-plated front and back. All you 
need do is go see Letheren and say, 
'Sorry, no gin.’ When he zooms and 
rotates you say, ’Terra!’ and spit. It’s 
so easy a talking poodle could do it.” 

"I can hardly wait to watch you get 
rid of Nemo the same way,” said 
Hancock, making it sound sadistic. 

"Nobody has said a word about 
Nemo. Nobody is the least bit curi- 
ous about Nemo. Finally I, James 
Walter Armitage Purcell, could not 
care less about Nemo.” 

"You will,” Hancock promised. 

In due time — which on Alipan 
attained the magnitude of about three 
months — the intercom speaker 
squawked on the wall and a voice 

139 




harshed, "Mr. Purcell of Requisi- 
tioning (Priorities) Department will 
present himself at Mr. Vogel’s office 
at eleven hours.” 

Hancock glanced at his desk clock, 
smirked and said, "You’ve got exactly 
thirty-seven minutes.” 

"For what?” 

"To prepare for death.” 

"Huh?” 

"Vogel is a high-ranker with 
ninety-two subordinates. He controls 
four departments comprising the 
Terran Co-ordination Wing.” 

"What of it?" 

"He makes a hobby of personally 
handling all gripes from Terra. Any- 
one summoned by Vogel is a gone 
goose unless he happens to be hold- 
ing the actual documentary proof of 
his innocence in his hot little 
hands.” 

"Sounds quite a nice guy,” Purcell 
commented, unperturbed. 

"Vogel,” informed Hancock, "is a 
former advertising man who got flat- 
footed toting his billboard around the 
block. But he’s a natural for routine 
rigmarole. He’s climbed high on the 
shoulders of a growing army of un- 
derlings and he’s still climbing.” He 
paused, added emphatically, "I don’t 
like him.” 

"So it seems,” said Purcell dryly. 

"A lot of people don’t like him. 
Letheren hates the sight of him.” 

"That so? I don’t suppose he’s 
choked with esteem for Letheren 
either, eh?” 

"Vogel loves nothing but power — 
which in this racket means seniority.” 

"Hm-m-m!" Purcell thought a bit, 

140 



went out, came back after twenty 
minutes, thought some more. 

"Where’ ve you been?” asked Han- 
cock. 

"Accounts Department." 

"Getting your pay while the going 
is good?” 

"No. I have merely satisfied myself 
that one hundred and five equals 
seventeen hundred.” 

"It wouldn’t save you even if it 
made sense.” Hancock continued to 
busy himself with nothing and kept 
one eye on the clock. When the mo- 
ment arrived he said, "On your way. 
I hope you suffer.” 

"Thanks.” 

Opening his desk Purcell extracted 
an enormous roll of paper, tucked it 
under one arm. He tramped out, 
found his way to the rendezvous, en- 
tered the office. Vogel, dark-eyed, 
dark-haired and 'swarthy, studied him 
without expression. 

"Sit down, Purcell.” He bared 
long, sharp teeth and somehow man- 
aged to look like Red Riding Hood’s 
grandmother. "Terra has brought to 
my attention a demand originating 
from a planet named Nemo.” 

"That, sir, is — ” 

Vogel waved an imperious hand. 
"Please be silent, Purcell, until I 
have finished. Your own remarks can 
come afterward.” Again the teeth. 
"A lot of very valuable time has 
been spent checking on this. I like 
to have all the facts before interview- 
ing the person concerned." 

"Yes, sir,” said Purcell, nursing 
his roll of paper and looking suitably 
impressed. 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




• "I have found firstly that Terra’s 
statement is quite correct; such a de- 
mand was in fact made and you proc- 
essed it. Secondly, that the subject of 
the demand, an. irradiator, was trans- 
ferred by you to an address upon this 
planet. Thirdly, that no planet dis- 
covered before or since the date of 
this demand has been officially given 
the name of Nemo.” He put hands 
together in an attitude of prayer. 
"One can well imagine the trouble 
and exasperation caused on Terra. I 
trust, Purcell, that you have a thor- 
oughly satisfactory explanation to 
offer.” 

"I think I have, sir,” assured Pur- 
cell glibly. 

"I’ll he glad to hear it.” 

"The whole bother is due to some- 
one on Terra jumping to the errone- 
ous and unjustifiable conclusion that 
Nemo is the name of a planet when 
in fact it is a code word used by my 
department to indicate a tentative 
priority as distinct from a definite 
one.” 

"A tentative priority?” echoed 
Vogel, raising sardonic eyebrows. 
"What nonsense is this? Don't you 
realize, Purcell, that all demands 
must be rated strictly in order of 
importance or urgency and that there 
is no room for indecision? How can 
anything have a tentative priority?” 

“I find it rather difficult to tell you, 
sir,” said Purcell, radiating self- 
righteousness. 

"I insist upon an explanation,” 
Vogel gave back. 

Assuming just the right touch of 



pain and embarrassment, Purcell in- 
formed, "Since cargo-space is severely 
limited the problem of granting 
priorities is a tough one. And when 
a senior official practically orders my 
department to assign to his demand 
a priority higher than it deserves it 
follows that, if we obey, something, 
else of similar weight or bulk must 
accept lower priority" than it de- 
serves. But regulations do not permit 
me to reduce the status of a high- 
priority demand. Therefore I am 
compelled to give it a tehtative prior- 
ity, meaning that it will gain its 
proper loading-preference . providing 
nobody chips in to stop it.” 

A gleam came into Vogel’s eyes. 
"That is what happened in this case?” 
"I’m afraid so, sir.” 

"In other words, you claim that 
you are suffering unwarranted inter- 
ference with the work of your de- 
partment?” 

"That,” said Purcell with becom- 
ing reluctance, "is putting it a little 
stronger than I’d care to do.” 

"Purcell, we must get to the bot- 
tom of this and now is not the time 
to mince words. Exactly what were 
you ordered to ship at high priority?” 
"Gin, sir.” 

"Gin?" A mixture of horror and 
incredulity came into Vogel's face. 
But it swiftly faded to be replaced by 
a look of suppressed triumph, "Who 
ordered you to bring in gin?” 

"I’d rather not say, sir.” 

"Was it Letheren?” 

Purcell said nothing but assumed 
the expression of one who sorrows 
for Letheren’s soul. 



STUDY IN STILL LIFE 



141 




Gratified by this, Vogel purred. He 
rubbed his hands together, became 
positively amiable. "Well, Purcell, it 
appears to me that you have been 
guilty of no more than a small over- 
sight. Should you find it necessary to 
employ code-words as a matter of 
administrative convenience it is ob- 
vious that Terra should be notified 
through the proper channels. With- 
out regular notification Terra would 
eventually find itself trying to cope 
with incomprehensible jargon. An 
impossible situation as doubtless you 
now appreciate, eh, Purcell?" 

"Yes, sir,” said Purcell, humble 
and grateful. 

"But in the present circumstances 
it would not be wise to advise Terra 
of the true meaning of Nemo. To do 
so would be tantamount to admitting 
that our priority system is being 
messed up at anybody’s whim. I hope 
you see my point, Purcell.” 

"I do, sir.” 

"Therefore I propose to inform 
Terra that the inclusion of this word 
was due to a departmental error born 
of overwork and lack of sufficient 
manpower.” He exposed the teeth. 
"That will give them something to 
think about.” 

"I’m sure it will, sir.” 

"Purcell, I wish you to drop the 
use of all code-words except with my 
knowledge and approval. Meanwhile 
I shall take the steps necessary to put 
a stop to any further interference 
with your department.” 

"Thank you, sir.” Purcell stood up, 
fumbled with his roll of paper, looked 
hesitant. 

142 



"Is there something else?” asked 
Vogel. 

"Yes, sir.” Purcell registered 
doubt, reluctance, then let the words 
come out in a rush. "I thought this 
might be an opportune moment to 
bring to your attention a new form 
I have devised.” 

"A form?” 

"Yes, sir.” He unrolled it, put one 
end in Vogel’s hands. The other end 
reached almost to the wall. "This, 
sir, is a master-form to be filled up 
with the origin, purpose, details, 
progress and destination of every 
other form that has to be filled in. 
It is, so to speak, a form of forms.” 
"Really?” said Vogel, frowning. 
"By means of this,” continued Pur- 
cell greasily, "it will be possible to 
trace every form step by step, to 
identify omissions or contradictions 
and to name the individual responsi- 
ble. Should a form get lost it will be 
equally possible to find at what point 
it disappeared and who lost it.” He 
let that sink in, added, "From what 
I know of interdepartmental confu- 
sions, many of which are hidden from 
senior officials, I estimate that this 
form will save about twenty thousand 
man-hours per annum.” 

"Is that so?” said Vogel, little in- 
terested. 

"There is one snag,” Purcell went 
on. “In order to save all that work 
it will be necessary to employ more 
people. Since their work would be 
wholly co-ordinatory they would 
come under your jurisdiction, thus 
adding to your responsibilities.” 
"Ah!” said Vogel, perking up. 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




"In fact we’d have to create a new 
department to reduce the total of 
work done. However, I have studied 
the subject most carefully and I am 
confident that we could cope with a 
minimum of thirteen men.” 

"Thirteen?” echoed Vogel, count- 
ing on his fingers. He sat staring at 
the form while into his face crept a 
look of ill-concealed joy. "Purcell, I 
believe you have something here. Yes, 
I really do.” 

"Thank you, sir. I felt sure you 
would appreciate the potentialities. 
May I leave the form for your con- 
sideration?” 

"By all means, Purcell.” Vogel was 
now well-nigh jovial. Fondly he 
stroked the form, his fingers caress- 
ing it. "Yes, you must certainly leave 
it with me.” He glanced up, beaming. 
"If anything is done about this, Pur- 
cell, I shall need someone to take 
charge of this new department. Some- 
one who knows his job and in whom 
I have the fullest confidence. I can- 
not imagine a better candidate than 
yourself.” 

"It is kind of you to say so, sir,” 
said Purcell with grave dignity. 

He took his departure but as he 
left he turned in the doorway and 
for a moment their eyes met. A 
glance of mutual understanding 
sparked between them. 

Back in his own office Purcell 
plonked himself in a chair and re- 
cited, "Whenever two soothsayers 
meet in the street they invariably 
smile at each other.” 



"What are you talking about?” de- 
manded Hancock. 

I was quoting an ancient saying.” 
He held up two fingers, tight to- 
gether. Vogel and I are just like 
that.” 

You don t fool me,” Hancock 
scoffed. "Your ears are still red.” 
"Vogel loves me and I love Vogel. 
I hit him right in his weak spot.” 

"He hasn't any weak spots, see?” 
"All I did,” said Purcell, "was 
point out to him that if the number 
of his subordinates should be in- 
creased from ninety-two to one hun- 
dred and five he’d be automatically 
jacked up from a Class 9 to a Class 
8 official. That would gain him an- 
other seventeen hundred smackers per 
year plus extra privileges and, of 
course, a higher pension.” 

"Nobody has to tell Vogel that — 
he knows it better than anyone.” 
"All right. Let’s say I merely re- 
minded him. In return he was good 
enough to remind me that a disabled 
hero bossing twelve underlings is far 
better off than one sharing an office 
with a surly bum.” 

"I neither ask nor expect the true 
story of your humiliation,” growled 
Hancock. "So you don’t have to cover 
up with a lot of crazy double-talk.” 
"Some day,” offered Purcell, grin- 
ning, "it may dawn upon you that it 
is possible to buck a system, any sys- 
tem. All you need do is turn the 
handle the way it goes — only more 
so!” 

"Shut up,” said Hancock, "and 
talk when you can talk sense.” 



STUDY IN STILL LIFE 



THE END 



143 





THE REFERENCE LIBRARY 

BY P. SCHUYLER MILLER 



OF TIME 
AND 

THE WRITER 

N LAST August’s issue, 
I gave you gossip about 
the Edgar Rice Bur- 
roughs stories, "Beyond 
Thirty” and "The Man- 
Eater,” as fact. The publisher, Brad 
Day, has been more than a little dis- 

144 



tressed about the possible damage to 
his good name and shadow on his 
integrity — which I'm sure nobody 
has doubted — and wants to place the 
following facts on record: 

"The Copyright Office of the 
Library of Congress furnished this 
information: 'Beyond Thirty’ was 
published in the February, 1916 is- 
sue of All Around Magazine and 
registered in the name of Street & 
Smith, under B 353411, following 
publication December 31, 1915. 

Claim to renewal copyright was reg- 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 





istered under R 119046, upon an 
application received in the name of 
Street & Smith Publications, Inc., as 
proprietors of a composite work on 
June 17, 1943. Street & Smith as- 
signed rights to 'Beyond Thirty’ to 
Edgar Rice Burroughs in a document 
executed on June 15, 1927, and re- 
ceived by the Copyright Office on 
July 2, 1927. Recorded: Vol. 183, 
p. 46. Search in the Renewal Indexes 
failed to disclose a renewal registra- 
tion for a contribution to a periodical 
under the name Edgar Rice Bur- 
roughs and the title 'Beyond Thirty.’ 
" 'The Man-Eater’ — the second 
Burroughs rarity in Brad Day’s recent 
hardcover edition — was published in 
The New York World as a six part 
serial from November 15 to Novem- 
ber 20, 1915, and was registered in 
the name of The Press Publishing 
Company. Search in the Renewal In- 
dexes failed to disclose any renewal 
registration of a claim to copyright.” 
Translation? Both stories were 
copyrighted by the original publish- 
ers as part of the contents of the 
magazine and newspaper in which' 
they appeared. Copyright on "Be- 
yond Thirty” was later reassigned to 
Burroughs. Neither copyright was re- 
newed when it expired, and anyone 
who wants to do so can now reprint 
the stories without permission from 
the Burroughs estate or anyone else. 

Two people have done so: the 
anonymous publisher of the undated, 
multilithed, paperback edition that 
was peddled at SF conventions a year 
or so ago, and Day with his attrac- 
tive book. The alert salesmen of the 

THE REFERENCE LIBRARY 



paper edition certainly fostered the 
impression that it would be suppress- 
ed any day, and hence was an invest- 
ment for collectors. I bit and bought. 
Brad Day has never given this im- 
pression, and I shouldn’t have at- 
tached the gossip to his book. The 
two stories are still rarities, whether 
you like them as stories or not. 

It’s fascinating to speculate on 
why Burroughs asked to have the 
copyright to "Beyond Thirty” assign- 
ed to him in 1927. Checking in 
Day’s "Edgar Rice Burroughs Bib- 
ik),” you’ll see that he was at the 
height of his writing career. "The 
Moon Maid,” one of his best books 
and the only other one, so far as I 
can recall, laid in the future, had just 
appeared. Amazing Stories Annual 
was a sellout with his first Mars 
story in five years, "The Mastermind 
of Mars.” Blue Book was about to 
start serializing one of his most popu- 
lar Tarzan yarns, "Tarzan, Lord of 
the Jungle.” Two non-SF books were 
in the stores. 

Burroughs may only have been 
picking up rights to all his old stuff, 
preparatory to taking over his own 
publishing several years later. On the 
other hand, he may have intended to 
expand and extend "Beyond Thirty” 
into a full-length novel. If he had, 
the book might be one of his best, 
for one of its faults in the present — 
original — form is the way in which 
big episodes of the sort Burroughs 
handled well are collapsed into a few 
pages. 

Science fiction is particularly vul- 
nerable to this need for revision and 

145 




up-dating, especially when a writer 
has stuck his neck out and made pre- 
dictions or extrapolated the science 
of his time. Hugo Gernsback’s 
"Ralph 124C 41— f-” — out now as a 
Crest paperback — is chiefly notable/ 
today for the way in which Gerns- 
back has not had to back down on 
his predictions, although our technol- 
ogy has gone well beyond him in 
many ways. On the other hand, most 
writers before 1939 were offhanded- 
ly assuming that the way to atomic 
energy lay through some manipula- 
tion of radium. It was the most 
potent radioactive element we knew, 
so we used it — only to have uranium 
become the actual power-element. 
Stories from those times, reprinted 
now, usually have to be rewritten to 
keep them from seeming ridiculous 
to a reader who sees them for the 
first time. 

A little more subtle is the question 
of the writer’s attitudes, now and — 
say — twenty years ago. Most SF writ- 
ers seem to start young, and they 
have young ideas, ideals and reac- 
tions. These may change as they 
mature; I can think of stories of my 
own, written when I was in college, 
that express attitudes and use stereo- 
types that I wouldn’t be caught dead 
using now. If those stories were to 
be reprinted, they’d have to be re- 
vised. 

This seemed to be the issue in a 
recent legal battle between Ernest 
Hemingway and Esquire magazine. 
I recommend an article in the Au- 
gust 23rd Saturday Review, by Je- 



rome Beatty, Jr., for the full story 
and for a very thought-provoking 
discussion of this whole question of 
a writer’s old sins. 

Hemingway was not — as the news- 
papers assumed — trying to keep Es- 
quire from putting his three old 
stories of the Spanish Civil War into 
an anthology because he no longer 
held his then obvious Loyalist sym- 
pathies. He had a more fundamental 
objection, and one that brings about 
far more rewriting than politics does. 
He simply thought that the stories 
weren’t as good — as well written — 
as they should be, and he wanted to 
do them over or scuttle them com- 
pletely. 

As Beatty points out in his article, 
many writers,, great and not-great, 
have done this. Kenneth Roberts, 
whose historical novels- deliberately 
try to recreate the mood and sub- 
stance of their times, was continually 
patching them ’up as new documents 
turned up to alter statements he’d 
made or scenes he’d created. Talbot 
Mundy wanted the — first written — 
"Queen Cleopatra” volume dropped 
out of the "Tros of Samothrace” tri- 
ology, which Gnome Press is now 
reprinting, because as he made a 
deeper study, of Cleopatra and her 
times, he completely changed his 
mind about her character. If he’d 
lived, he would probably have re- 
written the book from scratch. A. 
Merritt was continually revising 
parts of his books. 

Readers often write me to raise 
this question about the one-shot 
novels from the old Startling, Tbrill- 



146 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




ing Wonder, and other magazines 
that are now appearing as hardbound 
and paperback books. Because I don’t 
have the magazines where I can use 
them, I usually don’t make the com- 
parison myself — but we have a good- 
ly number of critical readers who can 
do the whole thing from memory, or 
who have awfully good files. Some- 
times — as Beatty points out — the au- 
thor is restoring an original version 
that the magazine editor changed. 
Sometimes he is taking out stuff that 
the editor wrote in himself, to fit a 
house policy of some kind. Some- 
times the book publisher wants the 
manuscript cut to a specific length, so 
that it will go on a specific number 
of printed pages. 

Sometimes the writer simply 
changes his mind about what he 
wants to do. Though I haven’t yet 
read it. I’m told that T. H. White’s 
"The Once and Future King” (Put- 
nam, $4.95), an Arthurian fantasy 
that we probably won’t review here 
since it doesn’t pretend to depict 
reality, has involved almost com- 
plete rewrites of the second and 
third parts, "The Witch in the 
Wood” and "The Ill-Made Knight,” 
as well as addition of a fourth, .new 
part. They say he hasn’t harmed his 
whole, great epic fantasy in the proc- 
ess. On the other hand, you know 
that I think "Doc” Smith did spoil 
his "Len&man” series by putting into 
the book versions a series of episodes 
that spell out the behind-the-scenes 
struggle of Arisia and Eddore. The 
continuing, hidden mystery that was 
an important factor in the original 



versions, here in Astounding, has 
been destroyed. 

If you can lay hands on a Febru- 
ary, 1949 issue of Thrilling Won- 
der, you can decide for yourselves 
how successful one case of revision 
has been. It had a novelette or short 
story, "The Weakness of RVOG,” 
by James Blish and Damon Knight, 
in which an invulnerable robot came 
to Earth with the demand that we 
destroy him — or be destroyed by his 
masters. The problem: to find the 
creature’s weak spot. 

This story is now expanded into 
"VOR,” by James Blish and pub- 
lished as Avon Book No. T-238, for 
thirty-five cents. Some say the revi- 
sion has' spoiled the original story; 
I happen to like it. Whatever your 
opinion, it’s a good example of what 
a serious writer like Blish does after 
ten years. 

The gimmick, now, is only super- 
ficially the story; that has become 
the personal life of Marty Petru- 
celli, desk-pilot for the Civil Air Pa- 
trol, who is afraid to fly again and 
who is watching a flashy fly-boy steal 
his wife. The monster from space 
lands right in his lap, and he is — not 
too probably — in from the beginning 
on the struggle to communicate with 
the thing, then when its demand is 
known, to break through its de- 
fenses. All along, he finds his per- 
sonal problems getting in the way of 
his technical job, exactly as they 
would in reality. 

Partly because Marty takes himself 
out of the game in this way, Chris 
Holm, the Atomic Energy Commis- 



THE REFERENCE LIBRARY 



147 




sion’s investigator, turns into the real 
hero of the book. To me, his even- 
tual sacrifice seemed unnecessary; all 
it accomplishes is to give the ball 
back to Marty, who has to run with 
it as we knew he would all along. 
Blish handles such situations a lot 
better than that nowadays, and I 
can’t help feeling that either he or 
Damon Knight — who seems to have 
supplied the original gimmick — 
would have come up with a better 
book if they were now starting from 
scratch. 

If Hollywood gets its paws on 
"VOR,” you’ll get one of two dia- 
metrically opposite pictures. If it is 
handled for the old Thrilling Won- 
der, shocker values, it will be just 
another monster-feature for the 
drive-ins. But an intelligent director 
who approaches it in the mood Blish 
has now put into it, can make a real 
show out of it. I hope someone will. 



The Lincoln Hunters, by Wilson 
Tucker. Rinehart & Co., New 
York & Toronto. 1958. 221 pp. 
$2.95 

Rinehart is one major publisher 
that isn’t ashamed to publish science 
fiction and to call it just that. This 
new, rather- short novel by the sage 
of Bloomington is a pleasantly sus- 
penseful variation on the time travel 
theme. It isn’t up to the author’s 
memorable "Long, Loud Silence” 
but it’s his best in some time. 

The book begins in Cleveland of 
2578 A.D. — the year 334 of the new 

148 



era, after the blowup of human so- 
ciety. The world is a feudal structure 
of city states, totally regimented, in 
which men have time travel but 
haven’t reached the planets. Most of 
the records of the past have been 
lost, destroyed or distorted in the up- 
heaval of the Second Revolution, and 
an outfit known as Time Researchers 
are kept busy probing selected cor- 
ners of history for scientists or ani- 
quarians. 

One such collector, for whom they 
have already salvaged Plymouth Rock, 
wants a recording of Lincoln’s 
famous "lost” speech, made on the 
night of May 29, 1856 in Tucker’s 
own home town of Bloomington, 
Illinois. A team headed by Benjamin 
Stewart, whose standing with, the au- 
thorities is none too good, sets out 
to get it. And trouble begins to 
brew . . . 

The first fix goes wrong, and 
Stewart lands in Bloomington on the 
morning after the speech, when he 
was supposed to be reconnoitering 
well in advance. He begins to find 
evidence that something has gone 
wrong with the job, but makes the 
second trip anyway. And one of the 
crew, the erratic, alcoholic ex-actor 
Bobby Bloch, disappears. 

Once before Stewart has had to 
leave a fellow crewman behind, to 
be hacked to pieces in a Roman 
arena for the amusement of Antony 
and Cleopatra. He won’t do it again. 
Yet, thanks to the engineers’ blunder, 
he has only a few hours to find 
Bloch, before he will be in danger of 
meeting himself and being destroyed. 

astounding science fiction 




The suspense mounts nicely, the 
people of the story are all believable, 
and Tucker has done an especially 
good job of contrasting his unpleas- 
antly stable future society with the 
brash frontier of Lincoln's days. I 
don’t suppose "The Lincoln Hunt- 
ers” will win any prizes, but it’s one 
of the best of the year. 



The Blue Barbarians, by Stanton 
A. Coblentz, Avalon Books, New 
York. 1958. 223 pp. $2.75 
The Barford Cat Affair, by P. H. 
H. Bryan. Abelard-Schuman, New 
York. 1958. 152 pp. $2.75 

I am pairing these books for con- 
trast, because they represent the ex- 
tremes that satire can take in science 
fiction. The Coblentz book is old- 
fashioned, heavy-handed belaboring 
of our society by setting up an obvi- 
ously ludicrous parallel on another 
planet — in this case Venus. It dates 
from Amazing Stories Quarterly for 
the summer of 1931, and for my 
money is the best and most subtle of 
the author’s unsubtle burlesques. The 
Bryan book, on the other hand, is an 
utter delight — underplayed as only 
an Anglo-Irishman could do it, and 
as modern as tomorrow. 

"The Blue Barbarians” are the na- 
tives of Venus, a businessmen’s cul- 
ture broadly burlesqued from the 
bottom of the Depression. They tear 
around at high speed on motor roller- 
skates, convert their forests into 
gaudily dyed sawdust for the sake of 
conspicuous waste, and rotate their 

THE REFERENCE LIBRARY 



civilization around the cult of gulgul 
— their money, which happens to be 
colored glass. 

Erom Reve (Ever More, back- 
ward), the hero, is the latest of sev- 
eral pairs of explorers to try to land 
on Venus. We are supposed to be- 
lieve that mankind has spent eight 
hundred thousand years on Earth 
without doing this; now he’s forced 
to find a refuge, for the Sun is cool- 
ing and glaciers have covered most 
of Earth. With a lanky poet and the 
poet’s little dog, Reve is space- 
wrecked — the "clouds” of Venus turn 
out to be a shell of milling meteors 
that act like a one-way mirror — cap- 
tured, put in a zoo, released, put to 
work in a sawdust factory — satire on 
mechanization of industry — escapes, 
makes some green gulgul and be- 
comes a local tycoon, discovers and 
rescues his predecessors, gets involved 
in a planetary war, and so on. The 
science didn’t hold together, even 
then, and the satire is of the broad- 
est, but Erom Reve and his compani- 
on, Daolgi Kar, really take on a 
certain amount of flesh and become 
quite believable. Utterly unsubtle, but 
quite enjoyable if you don’t take it 
too seriously. 

"The Barford Cat Affair,” on the 
other hand, is -immensely subtle and 
just as caustic a commentary on our 
kind. It is the kind of thing George 
Orwell did in "Animal Farm,” but 
better. 

Spurred by a few fanatics, the 
"housekeepers” of the English city 
of Barford have resolved to destroy 
all cats . . . and the cats, as the only 

149 




really civilized people in town, take 
steps to protect themselves. First 
there’s a sit-down strike: no rats or 
mice will be caught. Then there is 
direct retaliation: one by one, key 
figures in the opposition are picked 
off and quietly eaten — the author of 
the bill to obliterate cats, a pair of 
sadistic boys, one of the city’s cat- 
catchers. But this phase of the feline 
underground is simply ignored: it’s 
the rats that save the day. 

The quiet, feline objectivity with 
which the cats go to work on Bar- 
ford is shivery. Their views of man- 
kind, discussed in their occasional 
parleys, are devastating. And at the 
very end there is still another twist 
that penetrates through the character 
of cat-kind, right into the vitals of 
man-kind again. 

Unless you simply can’t stand this 
kind of book, don’t overlook "The 
Bai'ford Cat Affair.’’ 



Our Nuclear- Future, by Edward 
Teller and Albert L. Latter. Cri- 
terion Books, New York. 1958. 
184 pp. $3.50 

The main-line reviews of this book 
have dwelt almost entirely on the 
authors’ politics, and particularly on 
what they have to say about H-bomb 
testing. Dr. Teller needs no intro- 
duction; he is now at the University 
of California at Berkeley. Dr. Latter 
is a theoretical physicist with the 
Rand Corporation. Both men write 
here somewhat as apologists for the 
AEC point of view, that further 

150 



bomb tests are necessary and will 
not do much harm, and it is on this 
angle that the book has been review- 
ed and attacked. 

What has not been sufficiently em- 
phasized is that here is one of the 
clearest expositions of nuclear physics 
that we have had from any writer. 
If this is Latter’s contribution, more 
power to him: I hope he keeps on 
writing as lucidly about difficult mat- 
ters. Nobody who reads the book 
should have much difficulty under- 
standing why fallout occurs, what its 
dangers to us are, and what they may 
become. The story is unfolded step 
by step to the authors’ — and the 
AEC’s — conclusion that the danger 
of a nuclear war, brought about be- 
cause we have not made the tests 
necessary to develop sure, "clean” 
nuclear weapons, is greater than the 
direct or genetic harm from radi- 
ation. 

This is the vulnerable spot in the 
book, and the one that has been at- 
tacked to the exclusion of credit for 
the good the main text will do. It 
has been attacked mainly by laymen 
and scientists who argue backward 
from the conviction that the only 
way to avoid a nuclear holocaust is 
to have no nuclear weapons, and 
that if you can’t have effective weap- 
ons without tests, then we must stop 
the tests. Having worked back to 
this point, they then seize on any evi- 
dence or indications that the tests 
themselves are dangerous to our pres- 
ent population. 

I am quite sure these critics of the 
Teller-Latter-Libby attitude ("testing 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




is safe”) don’t know whether damage ' 
is being done or not, and certainly 
not how much. On the other hand, 
neither does the AEC yet know that 
it isn’t being done. The facts simply 
are not all in, and for my money 
Teller and Latter do not make this 
sufficiently clear. Neither — though 
they discuss it — do they bear down 
hard enough on the question of vari- 
ation in the statistics we do have. 

The point is that you tell a very 
incomplete story when you argue 
from averages, of whatever kind. If 
the average fallout of Strontium 90 — 
which is absorbed into the bones and 
provides a radioactive source inside 
the body — has a certain value, taken 
over the world as a whole, then in 
about half the world it will be less 
than this average, but in the other 
half it will be greater. By the same 
token, the average .susceptibility of 
people to radiation means very little 
until you know the range of sus- 
ceptibility: half the people exposed 
will be injured by less radiation than 
- the average tolerance would indicate, 
and half can take more without dan- 
ger. 

There are tested statistical measures 
to show what the spread in a set of 
data is. They are used, for example, 
in reporting radiocarbon ages of bur- 
ied organic matter: the wood or char- 
coal has a certain apparent age, plus 
or minus a few hundred years’ sta- 
tistical error. I assume — and I hope 
— that the reason Teller and Latter 
have not given such measures of 
spread is that we simply don’t have 
’em yet. Such measures mean very lit- 

THE REFERENCE LIBRARY 



tie unless they are based on a large 
"universe” of data, and the data are 
still scarce, but they are coming in. 

On one statistical point, however, 
the authors have made themselves 
clear: the amount of fallout from 
bomb tests made thus far is smaller 
than the natural variation in radio- 
activity from other sources, including 
cosmic rays, X rays, radium in water 
and on wristwatch dials, and the 
natural radioactivity in bricks and 
stone and concrete. This is what a 
communications man would call the 
"noise.” 

This is a very hard thing to make 
intelligible. On the surface, it seems 
quite clear that if radioactivity is 
dangerous, more radioactivity is more 
dangerous. From this point of view, 
it doesn’t help much to say that all. 
the fallout from bomb tests is less 
hazardous to you than vacationing in 
the Rockies or drinking milk from a 
cow that is pastured on acid soil, or 
having your chest X-rayed. Still, I 
wish Teller and Latter had tried to 
make it clearer. I think they c-ould 
have done it. 



Invisible Barriers, by David Os- 
borne. Avalon Books, New York. 
1958. 223 pp. $2.75 

This is one Avalon book that 
hasn’t been cut; judging from the 
type size, it’s been expanded from 
the original in the December 1957 
If, where the title was "And the 
Walls Came Tumbling Down” and 
the author called himself Robert 

151 




Silverberg, a person known from 
other sources to exist. 

We enter a future, not too far 
ahead, in which isolationism and 
anti-intellectualism have about reach- 
ed the nadir. There are solid if in- 
visible walls of prejudice around the 
United States, and nothing beyond 
them can even be mentioned on fear 
of penalties for deviationism. TV 
producer John Amory is doing the 
best he can with the butchered scripts 
that filter through the network’s 
screening committee ("offend no- 
body”), and he has friends among 
the deviationist eggheads. Then, at a 
party, he is drugged and wakes up 
in the hands of three-eyed blue-skin- 
ned aliens who want him to cull off 
the best of Earth's culture for them. 
Chance gives him a reason: the vis- 
itors from the Lesser Magellanic 
Cloud intend to sweep Earth clean 
and move in, but they’d like a few 
souvenirs of the natives. 

So Amory sets out, by planned 
deviationism, to break down the in- 
visible barriers and let the world in, 
in time to present a united front to 
the invaders. 

The gimmick is good, the setting 
is consistent if sketchy — there were 
only sixty pages in the magazine, 
after all — but the ending is a dis- 
appointment. All in all, a time- 
marker. Silverberg is doing better 
than this. 



Invaders From Earth, by Robert 
Silverberg. 



Across Time, by David Grinnell. 

Ace Books, New York. D-286. 

169 + 150 pp. 35tf 

As a matter of fact, here is Silver- 
berg doing a good deal better in half 
— and the better half — of a book 
that costs you 35 cents instead of 
$2.75. There are no credits, so it may 
be an original. (I'll be corrected by 
our readers if it isn’t, but by that time 
it will be much too late to apologize 
to you.) 

We are taken into the subtly dif- 
ferent world of the Twenty-first 
Century gray flannel, Ivy League set 
where Ted Kennedy is a promising 
young man in one of New York’s 
biggest public relations firms. Extra- 
terrestrial Development and Explor- 
ation Company has found valuable 
minerals on Ganymede, but it has al- 
so found an intelligent, somewhat 
civilized race that doesn't want to be 
overrun. Steward and Dinoli, Ted’s 
bosses, are hired to produce an at- 
mosphere in which Extraterrestrial 
can wipe out the Gannies with full 
public support, and with United Na- 
tions funds. 

— This is the best part of the book. 
Ted has qualms, but it’s his job. He 
comes up with the prime gimmick of 
the campaign: a faked colony, which 
will be massacred by the fiendish 
Gannies and trigger the reprisals. 
His wife, however, is a socially 
oriented girl who can’t see that the 
end— a job to be done — justifies 
such means. Finally Ted is sent to 
Ganymede and undergoes a change 
of attitude when he learns what the 



152 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




Gannies — and the Company — are 

really like. This is the least con- 
vincing part: the Company’s real mo- 
tives never quite make sense. But it’s 
an excellent yarn on all counts, and 
the picture of New York’s Twenty- 
first Century equivalent of Madison 
Avenue is solid — better than the 
Pohl-Kornbluth "Gravy Planet,’’ in 
fact. 

The flip half of the double book is 
a reprint of the 1957 Avalon hard- 
back, a fairly ordinary time-mixup 
with some good parts, but nothing 
extra. Silverberg is why you buy 
this one. 



Lest We Forget Thee, Earth, by 

Calvin M. Knox. 

People Minus X, by Raymond Z. 

Gallun. Ace Books, New York. 

No. D-291. 126 + 160 pp. 35* 

The new part of this book, the 
story by Calvin Knox, is supposed 
to have created some stir in Science 
Fiction Adventures last year, where 
it appeared in three novelettes as the 
"Chalice of Death" series. It starts 
very well, but doesn’t hold . up — 
probably because its hero’s main 
problem had to be solved by the end 
of the first story. 

The time is a round hundred thou- 
sand years in the future, when an 
Earth-born empire has spread through 
space and finally collapsed of its own 
weight. Earth is lost and forgotten, 
but Earthmen hold a jealously pro- 
tected place as advisers to scores of 
petty and not-so-petty emperors scat- 

THE REFERENCE LIBRARY 



tered over space. Hallam Navarre, 
Earthman to the Court of Jorus, lets 
himself be suckered into a quest for 
a mythical "Chalice of Life," lost in 
the legends of Earth. If the whole 
yarn had been the expanded story of 
Navarre’s search for Earth, in the 
manner of Jack Vance’s memorable 
Big Planet,” it would have been a 
better book. As it is, Earth is found 
all too quickly and easily, its sleep- 
ing people are resurrected, and the 
remaining two thirds of the story 
switch to assorted plot and counter- 
plot as Navarre and his friends try 
to keep the new Earth from being 
wiped out. 

Gallun’s half was a Simon & 
Schuster original hardback last year 
— another variant on the mutants, 
androids, and microscopic men 
themes. It moves fast and is well 
done, but isn’t quite convincing. It’s 
worth the 35 cents, though. 



The Third Galaxy Reader, edited 
by H. L. Gold. Doubleday & Co., 
Garden City, N. Y. 1958. 262 pp. 
$3.95. 

If you read more than one science- 
fiction magazine, the chances are — 
especially if you don’t care for fan- 
tasy — that the other one is Galaxy. 
In this anthology, it’s editor has se- 
lected from the magazine’s last three 
years to give you a really excellent 
collection of fifteen stories, a couple 
of them by promising new names in 
the field. 

I think my favorite of the lot is 

153 




the story that closes the book, the to save mankind from an alien in- 

previously anthologized "Game of vasfon. 

Rat and Dragon,” by Cordwainer One of the new writers, Finn 
Smith, which creates a partnership of O’Donnevan, uses "A Wind Is Ris- 

men and cats to destroy the perils of mg” to show us a strange other 

an interdimensional universe. But planet — something that’s been neg- 

there are other excellent stories here, lected lately. Isaac Asimov, who 

too. The opener, Theodore Cogs- needs no introduction here, points 

well’s "Limiting Factor,” gives us a out that "Ideas Die Hard” in a story 

new twist on Homo superior and with a twist to the -twist to the 

makes an interesting companion twist. Lester del Rey’s "Dead 

piece to Heinlein’s "Methuselah’s Ringer,” Frederik Pohl’s "The 

Children,” just published by Gnome Haunted Corpse,” and Damon 

Press. Robert Sheckley’s "Protection” Knight’s "Man in the Jar” are mid- 
is a characteristic little yarn on the dle-of-the-road stories about strange 

subject of guardian angels. Evelyn powers. William Morrison’s "The 

Smith’s delightful "The Vilbar Model of a Judge” is in the mood 

Party” brings an ivory-towerish pro- of "Vilbar Party”; — an extra-terres- 

fessor from Saturn to Earth, and F. trial coping with human foibles: in 

L. Wallace’s "End as a World” is this case, a cake-baking contest, 

just a shade too long for its "Volpla” by Wyman Guin is another 

theme. of my favorites: the nicely done story 

Two of the volume’s other top of a biologist who breeds a race of 

stories come side by side: Fritz Lei- little winged folk. And finally, Clif- 

ber’s "Time in the Round” and ford D. Simak’s "Honorable Oppo- 

Avram Davidson’s wonderful "Help ! nent” gives a new twist to the 

I Am Dr. Morris Goldpepper.” Lei- philosophy of war. 

ber, as usual, has painted an impres- From where I sit, I’d say this is 
sionist’s portrait of a strange future the best of the three Galaxy collec- 

society, in which children’s place is tions. Certainly, it’s the best since 

bizarre but important. Davidson, his Number One. May they keep on corn- 

tongue doubtless in the hole left by ing---and will some publisher per- 

a missing wisdom tooth, has at last suade John Campbell to keep on 

permitted the dentists of the world doing the same for this magazine? 




154 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




BRASS TACKS 



Dear Mr. Campbell : 

Your editorial re ” Hyperdemocra- 
cy” in the August, 1958 issue has 
rung a fine bell in political science. 

To digress, I have been a reader 
of the genre since 1923. I started at 
the age of eight. (No typographical 
error in the starting year). 

Actually, this is the second letter 
I have ever written to an editor. The 
first was back about 1932 or 1933 
when I wanted Wonder Stories to 
continue. 

Take it back — there was a third; 
this was when I wanted to see Ray 
Palmer continue in the business a few 
years ago, and I sent in a subscrip- 
tion to a magazine of his to help 
him keep going. (Though I still de- 
plore his Shaver, et al, in Amazing .) 

The important thing is that for. a 



number of years now, both indepen- 
dents and many liberals have been 
puzzled on the very point you raise. 

Your editorial answers the point 
beautifully. 

Nevertheless, your choice of ex- 
amples is not very good. 

You state "if you are lucky, and 
accidentally discover an oil well, and 
make ten millions or so, that isn’t 
earned income, and you aren’t punish- 
ed for it. There’s only a twenty-five 
per cent capital gains tax. 

’’If, however, you make an inven- 
tion, and license the invention to 
many companies, and the invention 
is of great value so that royalties 
amount to $10,000,000 — that’s anti- 
social. It’s well-earned income, and 
is punishable with a ninety per cent 
fine.” 



BRASS TACKS 



155 





The examples chosen show only 
the product of a certain method of 
teaching; indeed a sort of brain 
washing. The remarkable thing about 
your editorial is that you have risen 
above the4xamples to present a truth 
to the American nation. 

( 1 ) Though finding an oil well is 
a lucky accident — or faith, or hunch, 
or whatever you want to call it — 
only one out of ten wells drilled in 
the United States ever produces oil. 
From experience, the cost of an aver- 
age deep well — about four thousand 
feet plus equipment if it is a producer 
— is over fifty thousand dollars. The 
greatest cost is in the drilling. Add 
to this the time of recovery of the 
initial investment. Most states, ex- 
cept Colorado, put oil production on 
a pro rata basis. For example, in Kan- 
sas, a well that can produce three 
thousand barrels a day is held to a 
maximum of sixty barrels a day. At 
less than three dollars a barrel, gross, 
you can easily figure out how long it 
takes that one well to pay out and 
get even. Only the landowner, except 
for taxes, gets a free ride. He re- 
ceives a set amount per acre of his 
land until a well is drilled. If a well 
is drilled and becomes a producer, 
he receives one eighth of the income 
without any expense to himself. He 
is also reimbursed for any "dam- 
age” to his land or crops. The oil 
producer does receive a twenty-seven 
and one half per cent depletion al- 
lowance, tax-wise, — based on the fact 
that as the oil is taken out of the 
ground there is consequently less oil 
that can be removed from that par- 

156 



ticular well. However, compare this 
with depreciation allowance on equip- 
ment, buildings, et cetera, in any busi- 
ness or industry. 

Add to this the fact that all inde- 
pendent, little, oil men — who drill 
nine tenths of the oil wells in the 
United States — are at the mercy, 
price-wise and every other direction, 
of both the big oil companies and 
the government (imports) and you 
can, I think, easily see the position 
of the typical oil man today. 

Further, the only way an oil man 
can take advantage of capital gains 
is to sell his interest in a producing 
well or wells. This sounds good until 
you realize one thing; the price for 
producing property is only the esti- 
mated income of the property for a 
three-year, or two-and-one-half year, 
period. This for a well or wells that 
might produce for thirty to fifty 
years, and, in toto, over a six-year 
period will produce at least twice the 
amount of the selling price — plus the 
fact that the buyer will have advan- 
tage of the twenty-seven and one half 
depletion allowance. 

But the oil man, the small one, is 
an incurable optimist. He wants to 
keep drilling, and he must keep drill- 
ing to be happy — something like the 
old prospector, he keeps hoping to 
hit a million-dollar proposition. In 
the meantime, to keep operating, he 
must sell what production he has 
achieved in order to keep going. 

Incidentally, oil imports don't hurt 
the big oil companies — only the little 
fellow. Remember this, when the big 
companies are importing oil — sup- 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




posedly helping our poor neighbors — 
they put the products in their stations' 
at the same price as the domestic oil. 
In the meantime they pay the domes- 
tic little guy only what they want to 
pay. 

Even so, most of the price of gaso- 
line and oil products is tax money, 
not the actual price. 

However, I might add; oil from 
the Near East, et cetera, counting 
transportation costs and everything, 
can be put into United States stations 
— gasoline stations that is — for under 
one dollar — a barrel that is. You 
may have a friend in the big com- 
pany industry who will dispute this. 
Look it up for yourself. 

(2) On the other hand, let us look 
at the holder of a patent. Recogniz- 
ing his difficulties; among them the 
cost of lawyers, the tracing of previ- 
ous patents, the stealing of ideas, 
et cetera, let us go beyond that. Let 
us say all those expensive, irritating 
problems are out of the way. These 
are similar to the cost of drilling of 
an oil man, without being quite as 
expensive, generally speaking. 

In the ordinary course of events 
the holder of a patent is either a cor- 
poration or an individual. Usually, 
if an individual, he has a job with 
some measures of security, except in 
such cases as where his contract calls 
for all new ideas to be owned by 
the corporation. The typical oil man 
has no security except as he makes it 
for himself. Not that an invention 
invalidates the inventor’s security. It 
may or may not. 

I agree that the inventor, where he 



is receiving money benefits from his 
invention, is still unfairly treated. He 
should have the same depletion or 
depreciation allowance for his inven- 
tion that declining earning power, 
life of patent, or brainpower shows 
to be necessary. Such a scale should 
be set up. 

None of this, of course, changes 
the . fact that your choices of exam- 
ples were poor, and, in themselves, 
hurt your premise on hyper-democra- 
cy — true as your political science 
might be. — Duane Solter, 220 Wood 
Lane, Wichita 12, Kansas. 

But you’re talking about a man who 
earns an oil well — not about one 
who accidentally discovers one! 
You’re talking about the man who 
earns a living by finding oil wells; 
naturally, since his success is an 
earned success, he must be ap- 
propriately punished. As you truly 
state, only the man who accidental- 
ly owned the piece of land under 
which someone else searched for 
and found the oil makes money on 
it! He has a right to wealth, you 
see, because he did nothing to earn 
it — it just happened to him. 



Dear John: 

Readers interested in Finagle’s 
Constant, the Bugger Factor, Mur- 
phy’s Law, Parkinson’s Law and 
other astute discoveries in the on- 
ward march of science will naturally 
want to keep abreast of events. I am 
happy to report that at a recent con- 

157 



BRASS TACKS 




vention of the STDK (Society for 
Those Dazed by Knowledge) . some 
intriguing papers were read upon the 
following: 

Brumfit’s Law: That the critical 
mass of any do-it-yourself explosive 
is never less than half a bucketful. 
This was demonstrated by Emmanuel 
Brumfit at the age of twelve. He 
mixed half an ounce of gunpowder, 
applied a match and nothing happen- 
ed. He added more of this, that and 
the other, applied another match. 
Nothing happened. He went on add- 
ing and mixing without result. The 
volume reached exactly half a bucket- 
ful when he applied match number 



fifty-four and went out the window 
without bothering to open it. 

Yapp’s Basic Fact: That if a thing 
cannot be fitted into something small- 
er than itself some dope will do it. 
This was discovered by Harold Poin- 
dexter Yapp at the remarkable age 
of seven. He proved it to the com- 
plete satisfaction of two hundred 
onlookers including one regarded as 
a scientific expert — a mortician. He 
trapped his head in a fence and had 
to be sawn out by the local fire de- 
partment. 

Potter’s Theorem: That the great- 
est possible prime number is equal 
to infinity minus one. By profession 
Horace Potter is a whacks’ wheeler 
and probably the world’s greatest ex- 
pert at shoving a coffee truck around 
the corridors to the other inmates. 
Like Fermat, he got to his theorem 
intuitively. But quite recently he came 
up with incontrovertible proof. It 
can’t be controverted because nobody 
can figure how forty-two cans of 
tuna-fish get into the calculations.— 
Eric Frank Russell. 

And that should be enough to end 

Finagleing for good! 



Dear Ed: 

Pertaining to the article "Divining 
Rod, Standard Equipment”: 

My God, it works! — T. H. Mil- 
ton, 324 17th Street, Dunbar, West 
Virginia. 

Thought we were kidding, huh? 




MOVING? 

Going to have a new address? 

We con'l send your regular Astounding 
SCIENCE FICTION along if you don’t 
warn us ahead of lime. If you’re going 
to move, let us know six weeks in ad- 
vance. Otherwise you'll have a neglected 
mailbox! 

Write SUBSCRIPTION DEPT. 

Astounding SCIENCE FICTION 
304 East 45th St.. New York 17. N. Y. 



THE END 



158 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




( Continued from page 7) 
by buried water, gas, or sewer pipes. 
For the steel company engineers, they 
locate buried pipes of any kind; the 
engineers want to know where the 
pipes are so that, in driving piling, 
they won’t hit them. 

Science has ducked the issue of 
studying psi very simply; it has 
denied that there is any phenomenon 
to study. 

In doing so, it is denying a truth 
— an unpleasant, perhaps disastrous, 
truth. 

The Department of Agriculture I 
mentioned didn’t continue their in- 
vestigations — they denied them. 

The engineering use of dowsing 
rods is widespread today, in the 
United States, in every state of the 
Union. There are companies manu- 
facturing dowsing rods such as Mark- 
lund uses, and they can be bought 
from suppliers anywhere in the coun- 
ty 

One company manufacturing them 
is 'the Jayco Company, of Bir- 
mingham, Michigan; they sell them 
as the Ayco Pipe Locators. 

They are used, strictly at the en- 
gineering rule-of-thumb level, by 
men who find they do a job no other 
known device will do. They are, 
?imply, pragmatically economical of 
time and effort. Such men will not 
waste their time and effort convinc- 
ing you they work; they have a job 
to do, and if you don’t like their 
tools, that is, of course, your busi- 
ness, so far as they’re concerned. 

Science, I can say flatly, with plenty 

WE MUST STUDY PSI 




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of solid evidence to back it up, is 
wrong. Dowsing rods, used to locate 
pipes underground, do work. Science 
is simply, explicitly, wrong in deny- 
ing the phenomenon. 

And this, I propose, is the place 
that we must start studying. We must, 
whether we like it or not — and be- 
lieve me, from what little studying 
I’ve done, we won’t like it. ■ 

Psi phenomena exist at the same 
level that emotion, desire, and want 
do, as far as I can make out. If that’s 
the case, then in studying the psi 
phenomena, you’re studying the level 
which men, today, hold to be the ulti- 
mate level of privacy — Subjective 
Reality. An understanding of the 
laws of this level would make it pos- 

159 




sible to manipulate desire, change 
attitudes, control emotions. 

And that, of course, no man wants 
possible. 

Of all the things Logic and Phi- 
losophy and Science have investi- 
gated, Emotion, certainly one of the 
most tremendously important in all 
human affairs, has been least investi- 
gated. Essentially, Science and Logic 
and Philosophy have agreed on only 
one thing for sure; "It shouldn’t 
exist! Get rid of it! It just fouls 
everything beyond hope of straight- 
ening out ! Stop it — destroy it — 
stamp it out!” 

Psychology, of course, has had to 
deal with the anathematized stuff. But 
even psychology seeks to eliminate 
it from patients; it’s an unfortunate, 
intractable human weakness that must 
be dealt with. 

A logician’s attitude toward emo- 
tion is startlingly similar to that of a 
Victorian maiden lady toward Sex. 
The nasty stuff shouldn’t exist, and 
certainly decent people won’t talk 
about it or investigate it. 

Emotion is, essentially, beyond any 
possibility of logical analysis; it’s an 
individual’s reaction to his perception 
of subjective reality. And so long as 
"subjective” has the semantic conno- 
tation of "not real,” logic certainly 
isn’t going to be able to get a real 
solution to the problem. 

I suggest that Subjective Reality 
bears the same relationship to Objec- 
tive reality that field-forces do to mat- 
ter. Field forces are not material; 
they obey wildly different laws — but 
they do obey laws. 

160 



I suggest that Subjective Reality is 
a true, inherent level of reality in the 
Universe. It’s no more something ex- 
clusively generated by human minds 
than "organic” chemical compounds 
were exclusively generated by living 
organisms. For all men knew, as little 
as one hundred fifty years ago, the 
ability to perceive light was a subjec- 
tive mystery; no known inorganic 
system had the ability. 

It took the development of quan- 
tum physics to explain the interaction 
of electromagnetic radiation and mat- 
ter sufficiently to make photoelectric 
cells possible. Eyes, however, had 
been around for some megayears be- 
fore that. 

To date, no interaction between psi 
forces and either material or field- 
force phenomena has ever been dis- 
covered. Considering the extreme 
resistance to serious study of psi phe- 
nomena, however, that’s not exactly 
surprising. Isaac Newton tried, 
Oliver Lodge tried — and their efforts 
in that direction have been hushed 
up as the indiscretions of two other- 
wise great men. Probably they didn’t 
have enough data on either psi phe- 
nomena or physics when they work- 
ed; maybe something more useful 
could be achieved now. 

And we must achieve it. 

Every human effort to build i dy- 
namically stable civilization — every 
effort, without exception — has foun- 
dered on the problem of emotions, 
desires, and the demagoguery that 
those uncontrolled wild variables in- 
troduce. 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




And the very best advice Logicians, 
Philosophers and Scientists have had 
has been . . . '-There shouldn't be 
any such things ! Suppress them ! 
Deny them! Do away with them!” 

And, every time without exception, 
they have, instead, done away with 
ihe philosophers, logicians, scientists 
and egg-heads. 

You can’t control a phenomenon 
by denying its existence. You can’t 
control it by suppressing it either; 
suppression simply causes an energy- 
storage effect that leads to eventual 
explosive release. If there’s a river 
flowing through a valley where you 
want to build a city, it’s rather futile 
to simply build a dam to block the 
river; eventually the dam will be 
burst by the building pressure, and 
the city wiped out in the resultant 
flood. 

A phenomenon can be controlled 
only by acknowledging it, studying it, 
understanding it, and directing it 
usefully. Properly handled, that river 
should be dammed, channeled 
through turbines, and made to supply 
the city with light and power. 

But emotion is the despair of logi- 
cians; it is inherently nonlogical. It’s 
the effort to force it into logic-only 
channels that causes the explosions 
that wreck every culture Man has 
ever built. Uniformly, repeatedly, 
one hundred per cent of the cases on 
record. 

Evidently what we need is a non- 
logical technique of analytical think- 
ing — a method of thinking that is 
more-than-logical. A not-logical-but- 
rational technique. 

WE MUST STUDY PSI 



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Trouble is, every individual is in- 
ternally convinced that he’s already 
solved the problem, and is using it 
right now. And is emotionally will- 
ing to work, fight, and, in fact, die 
for its conclusions. His method of 
fighting may, for emotional reasons, 
be limited to a simple absolute re- 
fusal, even if he is killed for it — but 
Ghandi demonstrated that that, too, 
is a means of destructive fighting. 

We must study psi, because it is 
the only objectively observable set of 
phenomena stemming from subjective 
forces. 

Logic was developed and corrected 
and forged into a reliable tool be- 

161 




cause objectively observable phenom- 
ena could be used as a check on the 
validity of logical methods. Logic 
that didn’t correlate with objective 
phenomena could be eliminated, -and 
logical methods that did work could 
be proved — in the more ancient 
meaning of "tested” — by objective 
experience. 

The psi phenomena represent sub- 
jective phenomena that can be ob- 
served objectively. 

When a man uses dowsing rods, 
the rods don’t do anything but act 
as indicators — the man does it. He 
uses some subjective-level-of-the- 
universe phenomena; he does it, not 
the rods. 

But he does something .that isn’t 
scientific, in the truest sense of that 
statement; the phenomena involved 
are hyper-scientific. If "natural" and 
"scientific” are correlated on a one- 
to-one basis, then what he does is 
truly supernatural. 

Fine; now we know that, and ac- 
knowledge that, let’s start looking 
into the nature of the supernatural. 
It, too, must have laws! 

In order to understand psi, we are 
going to have to develop a totally 
new kind of analytical thinking; 
known psi phenomena violate the in- 
verse square law, the distance-law, 
and every other basic law of Science 
and Logic. They viplate the basic law 
of Semantics; the map is the terri- 
tory! What is done to the map, is in 
fact done to the territory — and treat- 
ing a photograph kills Japanese bee- 
tles on a farm five hundred miles 
away. 

162 



That is absolute scientific nonsense 
— logically impossible! 

Good; now inasmuch as it does 
happen . . . what are the laws of 
thought, of analytical thinking, that 
do explain such things? Let us fully 
understand and agree that it is scien- 
tifically impossible, and logically non- 
sense. 

But let us be honest; we do not 
annihilate the phenomenon by deny- 
ing the fact that it happens. 

As of now, Russia’s got us licked 
at the level of science and logic. 
We’re ahead by reason of progress 
we made earlier, but our rate of accel- 
eration has dropped way down, while 
theirs is rising. 

In Russia, people truly desire sci- 
ence. 

In the United States, they do not 
desire science, and do desire stability 
and traditions. 

We must study psi — even though 
it will mean development of tech- 
niques that will force you, against 
your will and wish, to desire things 
that, today, you loathe. 

And such psi phenomena as dows- 
ing rods that work for eighty per 
cent of the people, when used to lo- 
cate buried pipes, are key facts — 
objectively observable phenomena — 
that can lead to breaking the problem 
of subjective- level reality. 

If it was important for the United 
States to develop the thermonuclear 
bomb . . . then 

We must study psi! 

The Editor. 

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